A wonderful blonde horn carved figural hair comb possibly Dyak Sarawak
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 6 ins h x 4 ins w (15 x 10 cm) decorative part 3 ins h (7.5 cm)
MATERIALS: buffalo horn
This amazing aristocratic Dayak comb artefact is carved from domestic water buffalo horn, with combined motifs of ancestor heroic figures and fighting cocks.
Tribal depictions of human beings, (and spirit beings, gods or ancestors who often take human form) are usually stylised rather than naturalistic. Many such forms have larger and more defined heads reflecting the belief that the head is the seat of the soul. Posture is of utmost importance. Outstretched arms, as in the figure which surmounts the heading of this comb, are associated with gods or heroes.
Placed beneath the outstretched arms of the central figure are stylised representations of birds, probably fighting cocks by the appearance of their luxuriant tail feathers. The curving curvilinear designs on the base of the heading are the hallmarks of carving skill on utilitarian objects such as combs. These decorations were intended to beautify their surroundings as well as to protect their aristocratic owners.
The languages of Dayak peoples have no traditional words for art or the making of art. Dayak artists viewed objects in perhaps a more unified sense, in which art and craft were seen as one and the same. In the Dyak belief system spirits inhabited the surrounding forests and were not always benign. Consequently, Dayak artistic creations and their intricate overlay of designs were often associated with some form of personal protection. In addition, an item’s embellishment often revealed its owner’s rank, level of prestige, or specialized knowledge.
In Dayak societies, ritually consecrated carvings also served as intermediaries between the living, the ancestors, and the supernatural. Among the most evocative creations are those effigies and magical charms that combine figural and powerful animal-like traits. Beliefs associated with the corporal human body and soul was 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.
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Spectacular ethnic Indonesian hair comb Dyak Sarawak (?) hair ornament