Chiefs Ornaments Humboldt Bay area West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia
This rare & beautiful set of traditional ornaments is from the Humboldt Bay Area on the North Coast of West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia. This set of chiefly ornaments came from a man in Humboldt Bay, he said they were his grandfather’s ornaments that they had sat unused for two generations and he wanted to sell them. They would then likely date from the mid-19th century or earlier. They consist of a finely woven belt decorated with Nassa shell & black seed beads, a shell ring necklace to match the belt, along with many earrings a nose ornament, and wrist ornaments. These were family heirlooms but they no longer had the traditional value they once had. Shell ornaments were an important type of traditional wealth that was held by families. Previously you could not marry without a significant shell wealth dowry that the young man’s family had to provide as payment to the young woman’s family.
This set of ornaments was one of two I field collected in 1986, the other set was sold to the John Freide Collection in New York and I retained this set for 34 years in my private collection of traditional ornaments. I kept the better set of the two. The set consists of twelve (12) ornaments and can only be sold as a set.
Published: “Adornment, exchange & myth in the South Seas: A personal journey through their material culture and magic. by Wolfgang Grulke 2022 Page
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