I purchased these two elegant hardwood combs from an old Jimmy Stevens chief who had his polygamous homestead near the interior village of Fanafo on Espirtu Santo Island. One comb is carved in pale hardwood and has two verticals on the handle. It has the owner’s name, Y.Lau scratched on one side - size 7 ˝ x 3 inches . The other, in darker wood, has an arced top and is engraved with diagonal bars on one sideand a stylised huse on the other – size 8 x 2 ˝ inches.’
The chief’s homestead consisted of his own house and a house for each of his several wives built around a central area. As is the custom with Jimmy Stevens’s villages each wife has a distinctive type of shrub planted outside her home, so they are easy to recognise.
Jimmy Stevens was the leader of the conservative Nagriamel movement, which attempted to secede from Vanuatu just before independence. He died in the 1990s, but still has many followers, including the old chief who carved these combs