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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



    private collection, UK

    – scroll down to see further images –

    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.


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

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

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