After a gap of more than 25 years since J. P. Barbier’s groundbreaking work, Power and Gold, the appearance of two major new books on Indonesian jewellery in the last six months — Ethnic Jewellery from Indonesia and the monumental tome Gold Jewellery of the Indonesian Archipelago — comes as a grand surprise. Even more extraordinary is that both works are from the same publisher, Editions Didier Millet, and Bruce W. Carpenter, who authored the first work with French expert Antonio Guerreiro and the second with Australian scholar, Anne Richter, who previously authored the acclaimed Jewellery of Southeast Asia. In an exclusive interview Carpenter discusses the wherewithal and reason for this double whammy.
Interview with Truus Daalder, author of “Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment: Australia – Oceania – Asia”
How did you come to write your book?
Since about 1980 we had seriously collected ethnic jewellery and adornment, and when I left the paid workforce in 2002, the time seemed ideal to carry out overdue research into the pieces and the meaning behind them in their cultural settings. This happily coincided with a career change for our son. His taking the many photographs with us was a bonus: it was less expensive than it would have been with an outsider, but it also made experimentation easier, as e.g. with background types and colours. We not only got a splendid collection of high quality, but also joyful and colourful photos. At first we were unsure what shape and size the book would take, although, as inhabitants of Australia, we always wanted it to start on our side of the world, with Australia and the Pacific. Most books of this kind which we know start in Africa, but, after moving through Asia, taper off once they reach Oceania, and virtually no Aboriginal adornment had ever been included in any book. In many books there is not much specific text to help the viewer understand the deep significance of the objects shown. I wanted my book to enhance appreciation of ethnic adornment by detailed explanations of its function in the communities it derived from.