Eleven combs (one of eleven)
Decorative combs or, more properly, hair ornaments were worn by both men and women in Samoa and Tonga. In Tonga they were usually made entirely from coconut materials. The dried midribs of coconut leaflets were bound with single ﬁbres of coir (coconut husk ﬁbre) in red and black patterns, resembling those used in house beam bindings and basketry. The browny-red colour is natural, while the black is produced by steeping the ﬁbres in a local black mud.
In Samoa a larger variety of this type was made, having European glass beads threaded on to the coir ﬁbres in decorative patterns. Wood forms with long carved handles were also worn. Combs circulated widely through inter-island exchanges and thus were also used in neighbouring Fiji.
Steven Hooper, 1997
Entry taken from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Vol. 2: Pacific, African and Native North American Art, edited by Steven Hooper (Yale University Press, 1997) p. 39.
Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific 2017 exhibition
Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, Norwich is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition about Fiji ever assembled. Revealing stunning sculptures, textiles, ceramics, and ivory and shell regalia the exhibition takes the visitor on a journey through the art and cultural history of this dynamic South Seas archipelago since the late 18th century. 14 October 2016 - 12 February 2017
More from the collection
Three portraits of Francis I
Unframed: (h. 600 x w. 455 mm) Framed: (h. 655 x w. 825 x d. 35 mm)