Mouth ornament

Bismarck Archipelago
New Ireland

Dance ornament for Malangan (Malagan) rituals

Carved wood (Alstonia), natural pigments, shell
Late 19th century
Height: 6 ¼ in. (16 cm)
Length: 14 ½ in. (37 cm)

Ex collection Charles Edouard Duflon, Geneva

Published in: Ferocious Poetry, Ancient Arts of New Ireland, 2019

Price: sold

Melanesia – Bismarck Archipelago
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This animal figure combining traits of both a lizard and a bird is a mouth ornament that was held between the teeth by a dancer or sometimes placed in the mouth of a mask during the ritual ceremonies of the Malangan (Malagan).
The Linden Museum in Stuttgart and the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne have closely related examples of New Ireland dance ornaments with a similar iconography in their collections.