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Exceptional old Dayak baby carrier or Ba, circa 1960. (DBA)

One of the finest baby carriers I have ever come across - the quality of the weaving, the beadwork and the decoration are all exceptional - a true collectors piece.

Dayak art specialist Michael Heppel explains that the Kenyan and Kayan people believe that an infant soul is only loosely connected to its body and requires special protection, which is provided by the Ba in order to prevent it being stolen by malignant spirits.

The woven rattan basketry framework weaving of this Ba is fine and old with a good patina. The bead panel, called the Aban, is made of fine, small beads and depicts a central protective spirit above two opposing tigers, the sign of a baby born to a family of high status, with numerous small spirit faces surrounding these main elements. (As Mark Johnson explains, an Aban indicate social status and motifs of full human figures, dragons, tigers, and hornbills were reserved for the highest ranking village aristocrats. The large beaded tassels on either side are works of art in their own right).

The other decorative elements consist of antique glass beads, claws and round shell disks and Heppel also points out that each of the other decorative elements - donated family members to support their clan and show its status - has a special function. For example, the large antique glass beads are supposed to cry out and warn the mother if an evil spirit approaches the baby from behind.

Size: 33 x 18 x 28 cm / 13 x 7 x 11 iinches

Price: 2150.00 AUD
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