Bougainville Comb

A rare three tined hair comb carved of bamboo with two kokorra figures in low relief placed to either side of the finial.

Provenance: Ex coll.: the entomologist Friedrich F. Tippmann, Vienna (1894/1974).

Literature: THE ART OF THE SOLOMON ISLANDS & WORKS OF ART FROM THE PACIFIC ISLANDS – TEFAF 2011. 2011. English texts by Philippe Bourgoin & Anthony JP Meyer, p. 24, fig. 25B

The spirit figures are displayed in the so-called open, or splayed, hocker position. The hollow body of the comb once contained feathers as added embellishments. Two smaller JANUS heads are carved in reverse at the base of the tines. The cylindrical upper section of bamboo, below the figures, is wrapped with woven red and yellow orchid fiber. Telei village, Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands, Melanesia. Bamboo, lime highlighting, and orchid root. 30 cm. 19th/20th century.

Combs such as this example were worn in the dressed domed hairdos of initiated men as a symbol of status and rank.

Ref.: Heermann, Ingrid & Menter, Ulrich: SCHMUCK DER SUDSEE. Prestel, Munich. 1990.