Hair Ornament from a Flute Figure (manyan)
Culture: Oceanic, Papua New Guinea, Biwat People
Dimensions: Overall: 20 1/16 x 3 x 3 1/2 in. (51 x 7.6 x 8.9 cm)
Medium: wood, mother of pearl shell inlay, red and white pigment
Credit Line: Gift of the Masco Corporation
Label Text: The intricate carving of this elaborate hair ornament is intended to be viewed in profile. Its abstract forms represent several animals important to the Biwat people of Papua, New Guinea. The head of the ornament is a hornbill bird, related to the soul and ancestor/spirit world and sacred to peoples throughout Oceania. At the bottom are the three-toed feet and legs of the flightless Cassowary bird. A crocodile, revered by the Biwat as the Great Mother who created the world, is placed vertically along the back.
Hair ornaments like this may have adorned the feather “hair” of a carved ancestral spirit figure attached to ceremonial bamboo flutes. They were also worn by dancers at rituals and ceremonies.
Object Number: 2002.25
Currently on view