Prominent ornamental combs were worn by men across the south-eastern Solomon Islands. This example is a rare variation of the common bound comb or Kafa Gwaroa of Malaita, which is made by binding together several fern leaf spines with a complex pattern of yellow wild orchid and other coloured fibres.
The maker of this comb has added three extensions made of ground shell money beads and fish teeth which would add greatly to both the monetary value and the wearer’s prestige.
This extremely handsome example of a prestige comb enhanced with fish teeth, and small shell currency disks has its handle bound in an intricate yellow and black pattern. It was produced for native use as part of the kastom revival of the 1960s and 70s which still continues and ensures a strong local demand for traditional ornaments and valuables for ceremonies and payment of ceremonial debts such a s bride price. Size: 22 x 4.5 x 5 cm / 8 ¾ x 1 ¾ x 2 inches.
Provenance: ex-Judith Woods collection. Judith Woods lived in Vanuatu for more than 25 years and frequently field collected in the Solomons.
Reference: Body Ornaments of Malaita, Solomon Islands by Ben Burt, Trustees of the Biritish Museum, 2009.