Dance ornament

oceania | New Ireland

Dance ornament

New Ireland

Vatlam hornbill figure
Mouth ornament for Malagan rituals
Northern New Ireland

Carved wood, shell and pigments
Second part of the 19th century
Height: 5 ½ in. (14 cm)
Length: 15 ¼ in. (39 cm)

Provenances
Ex collection American Museum of Natural History, New York.
Purchased in 1891 from Appleton Sturgis, “but had been on deposit in the museum since approximately 1880”
Museum accession number S-2245
Ex collection Bernard Brown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1965
Ex collection Irene Beard, London
Ex collection Michael Hamson, Palos Verdes, California

Published in: Michael Hamson, Oceanic Art, Paris, 2014, n° 24, pages 52-53

New Ireland Dance ornament / American Museum of Natural History / Galerie Flak Price on request
On view at La Biennale
Grand Palais Ephémère, Paris
26 Nov. - 5 Dec. 2021

This bird figure (hornbill) is a dance 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).
This exceedingly ancient ritual figure is one of the earliest Malagan ornaments to enter museum collections, as early as the 1880s.
Dr Jean-Philippe Beaulieu has written a comprehensive essay on this dance ornament.

Documentation

Malagan dancers with mouth ornaments

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