Breast jewellery

Ende 19. Jahrhundert

About the object

The breastplate is made of a rattan braid and decorated with boar tusks, nassa snail shells, plant seeds and fringes. On ceremonial occasions, these insignia denoting rank were worn by men in Papua New Guinea.
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The breast ornament is an insignia for men in Papua New Guinea and denotes rank - the number of boar tusks stands for the high prestige and the influence, which the owner of this piece of jewellery was endowed. The central ridge, around which the boar tusks are arranged, consists of a rattan weave, which is studded with Nassa snail shells and red and black seeds. Fringes made from twisted string are attached to the lower part of the rattan weave. The piece was worn with a braided string around the neck. Such breast shields were widespread on the northeastern coast of New Guinea, and were worn primarily on festive occasions. In battle, the heavy pieces probably had the function of an amulet, possibly even afforded actual protection against injury from enemy arrows. The breast ornament comes from the collection of the storeroom assistant, Robert Beirer from Sipplingen, who worked for the New Guinea Company at the end of the 19th century. The objects from his collection are among the oldest in the Freiburg Oceania collection.

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