Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

Buffalo Horn Comb

This piece was found in Lampung, southern Sumatra. It is similar in shape to one found in Carpenter's book on page 94.

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Comment by Alaa eddine SAGID 9 hours ago

Absolute brilliant find.

Your sleuthing is very interesting and indeed all these icons are related!

The boat was central to the Austronesian people for it helped them accomplish their odissey and kept them alive after they left their taiwanese motherland ( most interesting is the stone boat in yamdena/Tanimbar), the boat  represents both a real past and a potential mythological future replaced by the settlement on islands and thus embodies the tree of life. the next natural development step was the connexion to buffaloes, the only animals in the region that man could grow and in which store wealth of the land he came to settle in and transform.

All of this still visible not only in the daily life of the animistic people such as the Toraja of Sulawesi but also in the material culture of the Muslim people.....such artefacts have very very long memory!

Comment by Edith D on April 15, 2017 at 4:47

Here are some additional ruminations about the meaning of the shape of this comb.  The form is echoed in the repeating shape of stacked buffalo horns attached to Sumatran houses.  Here is a photo...

The idea of stacking is also echoes in the local creation myths which describe heaven as having 7 levels.  So, in Sumatran iconography the shape of the comb references infinity.

Comment by Edith D on April 15, 2017 at 4:28

Here is a photo of an old textile from the same region with a design that echoes the one in the comb.

Comment by Edith D on April 13, 2017 at 16:36
Thanks! I was very excited to find this. I have been researching the iconography, which I have discovered is similar to some of the Sumatran textiles. If I understand it correctly, the type of shape at the top of the comb represents both a ship and the "tree of life", which is an important iconographic image central to the mythology of the region.
Comment by Betty on April 13, 2017 at 12:35

Very beautiful, Edith!

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