Traditional Malaita Comb from the Solomon Islands, circa 1950s
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Traditional Malaita Comb from the Solomon Islands, circa 1950s

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Item details

Vintage from the 1950s

Traditional comb, or Malaita, from the Solomon Islands, circa 1950s. These patterned bound combs with elaborate, finely plaited handles, are made by spreading black palm spines and tying them in place to form the teeth before weaving complex designs into the handles in fine yellow, black and red fibres. Each pattern has a name. The Kwaio still carve some palm wood combs using only a knife and the wing bone of a flying fox for tools. The wickerwork craft is called boré. Yellow is the natural orchid vine, red dye comes from boiling the vine in a bamboo container. Measures about 7 1/2 inches overall. This is an exceptional example of Malaita, increasingly rare and difficult to find