VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Head band
1951.23.1605a-d
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

A fine example of an object showing a ritual that came to an end in the begining of last century. The Pamona had an egalitarian society of two classes: free peasants and slaves. Prestige was founded on personal distinction, not hereditary titles or property. Leaders were chosen from among men with capacity for decision-making and action. All men could win the status of courageous headhunters and warriors, while women could make a name for themselves as talented shamans. The cult of the ancestors was vital for preserving the community’s prosperity, e.g. through sacred festivals and headhunting expeditions. The ancestors gave the rules of social intercourse and were omnipresent. Angry ancestors meant disease and misfortune. The shaman was the religious expert who acted as medium between the human world and the invisibly present. The Pamona shaman was always a woman. The men’s business was to make war and go headhunting. To them, participation in headhunting was an initiation rite, just as all women were initiated as shamans, though few practised.

History of the Object
Kaudern's interest in ethnography had already been awakened by two voyages to Madagascar, in 1906-07 and 1911-12. A few years later we find him setting off again, this time on a long expedition to the island of Celebes in the Dutch East Indies, looking for answers to zoo-geographic questions about the island. The whole of Sulawesi had been annexed for the Dutch empire a decade earlier and the island’s unexplored interior opened up. Zoological aspects apart, Kaudern proposed studying the island’s original population as far as time would allow. Sulawesi’s unique position midway between Asia and Australia, in terms of both flora and fauna – yet to be scientifically explored – was a considerable enticement to a young scientist. During this stay of just over three and a half years on Sulawesi, ethnography steadily gains the upper hand. Kaudern collects more than 3,000 objects, mainly from the Kaili-Pamona peoples of central Sulawesi, takes hundreds of photographs and paints 15 pictures. Thanks to his scientific training, the items collected are carefully catalogued and systematized. Kaudern makes drawings of many of them, as well as structural drawings of dwellings and temples.

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Type
Costume and Jewelry 
Materials
Plant fibre, textile, barkcloth and metal 
Measurements
Width 20 cm Height 25 cm  
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Indonesia; Central Sulawesi 
Geography
Indonesia 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; Early 20 th century 
Function
Head band for women used at the great feast of the dead where all deceased were buried a second time 
Acquisition
Walter Kaudern (1881-1942) was a qualified zoologist but gradually became more and more interested in human beings and ethnography. He gained his doctorate in zoology in 1910 and also had writings published early on in other disciplines, such as geology and botany. After Nordenskiöld died in 1932, Kaudern was put in charge of the Ethnographic Museum, and the appointment was made official in 1934.  
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Museum of World Culture 
Museum
Museum of World Culture 
Credit line
 

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