5755

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Fine Pair of Heavy Dayak Brass Ear Ornaments

Dayak People, Borneo, Sarawak, Malaysia
late 19th-early 20th century

typical diameter of rings: 7.5cm-8cm; combined weight: 988g

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Provenance

private collection, UK

This fine pair of brass circular ear weights was designed to be worn by a Dayak woman through her elongated ear lobes. Each comprises ten brass rings.

They helped to stretch the lobes as far as possible. Once the lobe was used to carrying a certain number of rings, then another could be added, and then another. Wearers did need to be careful to manage the process however: a women with a broken earlobe who could no longer wear such ornaments faced a degree of social ostracisation.

The Dayak people are indigenous to the island of Borneo which is shared by three countries: Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. The pair here are believed to have been collected from the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo.

They are in excellent condition with a fine patina.

References

Chin, L., Cultural Heritage of Sarawak, Sarawak Museum, 1980.

Invernizzi Tettoni, L. & E. Ong, Living in Sarawak, Thames & Hudson, 1996.

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