Ornamental man's girdle - ROM2003_846_3


Ornamental man's girdle

Maker: Ni-Vanuatu
Medium:Wood, cord, fibre, glass beads
Geography: Melanesia, Espiritu Santo island, Sanma, Republic of Vanuatu (New Hebrides)
Date: c. 1897
Length 73.7 cm
Object number: NS15055
On view
Gallery Location:Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific
DescriptionThis ceremonial dress is made from an oval-shaped piece of wood with holes at either end within which a string is passed. The object is worn on the body so that the wood piece rests horizontally low on the buttocks. The holes secure an apron made of parallel strings of shell beads draping down in front of the pelvic area. Swiss anthropologist Felix Speiser describes the use as: “a support [for women] for the small of the back during coitus, and for this it would be suitable, having a flat surface on one side and a curved shape on the other, thus permitting movement in all directions. The only puzzling feature is that it is the man, and not the woman, that carries the device around … a more likely explanation is that the wood is shaped as a seat for the man” (Speiser 1990: 174). This portable seat would be useful at ceremonies attended by thousands of people.
Browse Categories:Textiles & Fashions
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