Friday, 24 November 2017

The Curious Gifts At Galeria Perdana

Once you get past the typical, diplomatic gifts that fill the cases at Galeria Perdana, you start really to appreciate what people imagine a gift can be.

First up, a portrait of horses in needle point. It's a no-brainer gift.


Dolls are good, at least in traditional dress, good for the ethnographically inclined. What about plush toys with record length eyebrows?

Then the gifts start to drift in intent. Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad on a vase - honor or horror?


Many gifts are muddied by business projects. A model of the building you hope to erect. The symbolic trowel, used to lay the first brick.

Maybe you're lobbying on behalf of a business organization. It sounds corny, but you want to show your appreciation....


Some no-nos. A decanter set, given to an alcohol abstaining Muslim. A mascot, looking a little too close to a racist stereotype.

Literally, silver slippers.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Typical (?) Gifts At Galeria Perdana

Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad and his wife, Siti Hasmah, received more gifts than one can imagine. Some 9,000 objects, give or take a large rounding error. Here's a ridiculously annotated look at some of the gifts.

There are plenty of typical items one would expect heads of states to re-gift to each other: your bowls, globes, pots of various significance.


Sometimes there's a nice ethnographic element to the gifts, a shout out to the giving country. Easter island dolls and, of particular pride for Sarah and James from their time in Chennai, India, a model of a famous sculpture from that city, Valluvar Kattam.

The intention and spirit of a gift can get a little murky when it's re-done in gems. Mecca.


The natural world is represented in flora and fauna.

About as regal a gift as possible, a jeweled crown.


Next up, sliding into more interesting, curious gifts.