A classic Lampong region carved and painted ethnic Indonesian hair comb
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 3½ ins h x 5½ ins w (9 x 14 cm) decorative part 2½ ins h (6 cm)
Here is a distinctive hair comb from Lampung, a province of Indonesia is located on the southern tip of the island of Sumatra.
This distinctively shaped comb is carved from wood and has a number of up curving horn like projections arising from the top of the heading. These crescent shapes are often associated with the horns of water buffalos which were themselves trophies offered to the ancestors.
The traditional combs of Lampung are often decorated with red pigment and gold leaf and this example is no exception. Compare with the similar comb illustrated in the final picture and taken from “Ethnic Jewellery from Indonesia,” (B W Carpenter. EDM, 2011). Boat like shapes, usually associated with the arrival of ancestors from the south-east Asiatic continent to the Indonesian archipelago, are of great importance in Indonesian jewellery and ornaments.
There are numerous examples of the associations between the shapes of houses and boats. There is also a direct relationship between architecture and jewellery, both of which often share the same decorative motifs as well as forms. The curved forms resembling the prows of the ships of the dead believed to carry the souls of the newly deceased to the lands of their ancestors.
Among Indonesian tribal societies beliefs associated with the corporal human body and soul were closely tied to the use of body ornamentation and jewellery. Traditional beliefs emphasize the spiritual protection of the person against bad influences, dangerous spirits, diseases and black magic.
The ritual and spiritual life of the tribal Indonesian groups was founded on ancestor worship, as well as worship of the different nature spirits. The cycle of daily life was imbued with the belief that all things, both animate and inanimate, possessed a spirit and that these were potential allies or enemies.
The function of bodily ornamentation was never purely material. It communicated not only with humans but also with supernatural powers. In the earthly sphere it involved the communication of status, authority and legitimacy. This latter was directly connected to the power and prestige of the ancestors to families, clans and villages..
Most jewellery was not made for daily wear but for use during ceremonies. They were also closely linked with music and dance and rites of passage in the human cycle such as birth, coming of age, marriage and death. Examples of this can be seen in combs indicating marital status.
As part of the greater tapestry of Indonesian history and culture these ornaments offer valuable insights into a multi faceted land and its peoples.
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Ethnic Indonesian hair comb Lampong region carved wood hair ornament