Headband

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Registration number
4445
Item name
Headband 
Category
Bodywear
 
Indigenous name
Biru (Kwaio language) 
Maker
Unrecorded  
Associated cultural group
 
Place
Pacific > Solomon Islands > Malaita Province > Malaita Island
Map
Collector
Mr William Effey 
Acquisition date
April 22, 1950 
Acquisition method
Donated by Mr William Stephens 
Raw material
Teeth, dolphin; beads, glass; shell, turtle; string, plant fibre
Dimensions
H: 40 mm W: 930 mm L: D: 15 mm Circum:

Description

Rectangular headband with porpoise teeth vertically woven into plant fibre string; turtle shell spacer; red, white, blue and black glass beads; two plaited strings of plant fibre extend from each end. Registration number 4445 marked with tag.

Research notes

From the UQ Anthropology Museum exhibition ‘Solomon Islands: Re-enchantment and the Colonial Shadow’, a scholarly project curated by Diana Young in collaboration with research consultants Graham Baines, Annie Ross, Clive Moore and David Akin, August 2016 – June 2017.

Headband of bright red shell and around 400-500 beru porpoise teeth; worn either on neck or forehead, occasionally both; worn by both men and women. Possibly from Kwaio but could be from anywhere in Malaita.

Indigenous name, materials, and place attributed by David Akin and Clive Moore.

Headbands like these were used for body ornamentation but also as units of currency in Malaita; some bands having 1000 teeth and were very valuable. People could tell how many teeth were used in a beru and so they were used like $50 and $100 notes. The position of the porpoise teeth have been thought to be indicative of whether the band was ancestral or from killings [D Akins 2013, pers. Comm., 5 September].

The headbands are also made with possum teeth, but the teeth in this headband are believed to be dolphin because of their curved shape. The plant fibre string is made with the very fine fibres of a vine. On Santa Isabel the outer green layer of the vine is carefully cut and pulled off revealing the fine hair-like fibres, which are collected and dried before making string. Women twine this fibre by either rubbing it between the fingers or up and down the thigh. If you want the pieces twined tighter together, you would roll the fibre up the thigh twice before rolling it back down [E Baines, pers. comm. 09/10/2012].

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