COMBS Special Exhibition

Combs are an important aspect of headdress all over the world. As sculpture, they are signifiers of ethnicity, class, battle prowess, marriage status, and other social and religious cues. Great care is taken in their creation.

We have before us a sample of comb styles, ranging from the Solomon Island off of east New Guinea, through the Indonesian archipelago west to Lampung, in the south of Sumatra, and up to the Paiwan people of Taiwan and completing the journey in China. Note the similarities and differences. Comb motifs include serpents, birds, boats, trees, ancestors, and geometric repeats that may represent ancestral genealogies. The custom of wearing a comb is one of the earliest and most widespread of all human endeavors, a truly universal cultural expression.

Exhibition begins now

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