Insignia

Neck ornament for men, um 1900

About the object

This ornament was fastened tightly around a man's neck, so that the carved head is looking upward toward the nape of the neck of the person wearing it. It protected its wearer from enemies and gave him strength and success in battle. Warlike conflicts were banned by the German colonial powers rendering ornaments of this kind redundant. Today, it is only used in ceremonial dances.
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Carved humanoid head to which frigatebird feathers - cut jaggedly - have been attached by means of a raffia strip. In the upper part there is a woven string, as well as two further glass bead strings decorated with a piece of cloth. Often referred to as war jewellery, neck ornaments was worn by men on the back, so that the face of the carved head looked backwards. It was considered a protection against enemies, as an expression of strength and fighting ability and was also worn during dances or visits to other villages. In this finely crafted, old piece, the elongated, plugged ear lobes - a typical feature for men -are depicted in detail. This artefact, as well as other objects in the Oceania collection, was collected by Wilhelm Lebahn, captain of the Imperial Navy survey ship »S.M.S. Planet«, on which the ethnologist, anthropologist and marine doctor Augustin Krämer was also travelling. The Lebahn collection was sold after his death by his brother-in-law Dr. Rudolf Plähn from Waldkirch.

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