Male hair tortoiseshell comb from old Kandy for high ranking officials
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 5 ins h x 7 ins w (13 x 18 cm) decorative part 2 ins h (5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: Collected in situ c. 1912,
This is an interesting type of hair comb which has a unique function. It was worn exclusively by men of the Kandyan aristocracy in Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka). The comb denoted high rank and was worn on the back of the head often in conjunction with another plain semi circular comb, which was designed to hold it in position.
The example here is typical of these unembellished flat combs. It has a distinctive wedge shape with flared corners, and is made in a mottled form of the lovely amber material known as blonde tortoiseshell. It has a decorative upper edge of equally spaced finials reminiscent of rounded castellation.
The final illustration shows a number of illustrations of high ranking Kandyan males wearing the combs. The hair is drawn back into a short queue (konde) and the teeth of the comb are thrust through it. Growing the hair long was a tradition of aristocratic males in Kandyan society. Shorn hair was looked upon with disfavour as it might indicate that the wearer had been in prison. Two of the sitters wear the high topped comb in combination with the broad unadorned combs which fit like a headband. The other two wear the “headband” form alone.
The round comb is known was the revi or abbreviated pepenava. On ceremonial occasions males of highest status wore in addition a high comb (kelin panava) which might be made from tortoise shell or horn. The practice of wearing growing the hair long and these handsome combs declined under British rule.
This item is over 100 years old and therefore predates the Endangered Species legislation. If this item includes any CITES Appendix I materials documentation and certificates required by law for commercial sale, import or export, will be included with it at shipment.
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Ceylon (Sri Lanka) male tortoiseshell hair comb from Kandy hair accessory