The Dorothy Methvin McClatchey Collection

Forehead Ornament

Forehead Ornament

Papua, New Guinea
1994.34.124
20th Century

Personal ornamentation plays an important role in ceremonies throughout Papua, New Guinea. While the 3.5 million inhabitants of the country share many of the same cultural characteristics, the style of ornamentation used by different groups differs slightly from region to region. A variety of organic and inorganic materials are commonly used in the creation of personal ornaments, including bird feathers (e.g., parrot, eagle, Princess Stephanie, bird of paradise), plant matter (e.g., crotons, ferns, seeds), boar tusks, plastic and glass beads, marsupial fur and marine shells (e.g., cowrie, conus, pearl, baler). This piece is made of woven plant fiber, boar tusks and various types of marine shell, including those belonging to the genera Cypraea and Conus. These and other marine shell species are used alone or in combination with other items to form headbands, necklaces, bracelets, armbands and belts. While marine shells are clearly of more importance to the economy of coastal populations, they are regularly used as ornamentation by both coastal and highland groups.