Indochina metal heads

yelloweyesJune 23, 2013

These metal (maybe bronze) heads sit on top of wooden bases. The bases are stamped "Indochina". The four pieces are very similar, but not identical. They were purchased overseas by a captain in the Merchant Marines, sometime between 1920-1940. The heads are about 4-1/2 inches tall and the bases are about an inch tall.

Do they have any purpose or value?


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Well, I answered my own question. These are mythological angels in Thai Buddhism, known as teppanom or thepenom. There is one on eBay with a starting bid of $30.00. No bids yet with 3 days to go.

Thanks anyway for reading this.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 2:38PM
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Don't give up too soon. $30 each seems a very reasonable price to the right buyer. Its remarkable that they have not been separated from the wood bases.

These seem to be bronze castings. Have you identified the wood? Teak or ebony should enhance the price.

The only negative I can see is on the rightmost figure. His left shoulder ruff may have some damage on its tip.

These may have been produced for the export/tourist market. However, since these are angel figures, there could be more significance. Maybe they were tokens of protection for travelers. If you could find our more about what these meant to the original owner, it could add interest.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 12:05AM
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They are often called "Siamese Temple Dancers".

Try that search term.

Cast Bronze would be higher quality than plated spelter or pot metal - scratch a hidden spot, such as the base, and see what color it is. Spelter is silvery, bronze will look brownish.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 10:44AM
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Thanks for your replies, jemdandy and lazygardens. These pieces belonged to my 73 year old husband's grandfather. He was the captain in the Merchant Marines and my husband only knows that they sat on a bookshelf forever. I don't think they meant anything to his grandfather, other than he just liked them. The pieces never got separated because they stayed in the family all this time.

My husband thinks the wood is ebony and yes, there seems to be a defect in that one shoulder. But it is smooth and finished looking, not like it was damaged?

After checking into the Siamese Temple Dancers, I do see that possibility as well. We scratched the base and it seems to be more brown than silver, so I think we have bronze.

For the time being, I think we will just enjoy these pieces and maybe periodically check the market to see what's happening. Thank you both for your interest and ideas.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 4:39PM
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