An intricately carved vintage hair comb ethnic Indonesia Tanimbar region
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5½ ins h x 2 ins w (14 x 5 cm) decorative part 2 ins h (5 cm)
Here is a wonderfully decorated hardwood hair comb from Maluku Island, Tanimbar Indonesia. Formerly known as the Spice Islands, the Maluku or Moluccas are an archipelago in eastern Indonesia.
Reflecting the belief that the head is the seat of the soul, combs and head ornaments are particularly important in Indonesian jewellery. Among 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. Such ornaments also convey status and authority within the community.
The ornament is carved from dark wood, probably Makassar ebony, and is decorated only on the frontal side, the back being plain. Here we see an interesting depiction of both the representational and anthropomorphic carvings which often appear together in tribal Indonesian art. The lower part of the heading, situated just above the tines, is decorated with a design of waves, indicating the sea.
Placed above these is a representation of a small human figure, placed amid horned crescent shapes. These are usually taken to represent the water buffalo, which was an animal often sacrificed to honour the ancestors. The ornament is topped off with a pair of confronting roosters. These probably represent the fighting cocks which are important in Indonesian culture and are descended from practices in Balinese Hinduism.
Timor is an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia, north of the Timor Sea. The island is divided between the sovereign states of East Timor on the eastern part and Indonesia on the western part.
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Carved wooden Tanimbar hair comb ethnic Indonesian hair accessory