- Registration number
- Item name
- Indigenous name
- Associated cultural group
- Pacific > Solomon Islands > Malaita Province > Malaita Island
- H: 165 mm W: 50 mm L: D: 8 mm Circum:
Small comb with 21 teeth, double cross bar with binding and intricately woven design. Detailed geometric pattern in 3 colours: red, yellow and black. Waisted shape: top section in yellow and black diamond design; lower section in red and yellow dots and dashes design running down to the teeth. There is a small black blunt spike at the top of the the comb. The comb, especially the teeth, has a low sheen to it. There are ridges woven to both sides of the comb. The decoration is identical on both sides.
This style of comb was identified by David Akin as Malaitan, Solomon Islands and has similar features to combs 2157 and 4436. The finely woven orchid vine is typical of the Kwaio aesthetic for things small, petite and detailed. Usually the older orchid combs were made with two pieces of fern wood for the crossbar; more recent combs have only one [D Akin 2013, pers. Comm., 5 September].
The teeth of the combs are made from tree fern called ona (Cyathea lunulata). When heated over coals strips of ona are straightened and then shaved down to make into thin sticks. These are bound to an ona crossbar at the centre with fibre from a coconut husk. Orchid vine adi’ is prepared, split and thinned to be woven into the neck of the comb first. The orchid is yellow on one side and white on the other so the strips are twisted and secured in between the vine sticks as it is plaited so only the yellow side is visible. The contrasting red strips used in the midsection are dyed coconut fibre. Patterns were many and varied including the diamond representing a type of seed, the zigzag representing fruit bats, and stars [Burt, Akin & Kwa’ioloa 2009].
Possibly from Solomon Islands/Tonga [10/10/2002]