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Thomas Murray Arts: COMBS

Comb with triangular graphics. Solomon Islands. Wood, fiber, pitch, shell. 12.5 inches / 32 cm. 

Thomas Murray is holding a special online exhibition, “Combs from the Solomons to China”.

The exhibition includes a sample of comb styles, ranging from the Solomon Islands off of east New Guinea, through the Indonesian archipelago west to Lampung, in the south of Sumatra, and up to the Paiwan people of Taiwan and completing the journey in China. Comb motifs include serpents, birds, boats, trees, ancestors, and geometric repeats that may represent ancestral genealogies. The custom of wearing a comb is one of the earliest and most widespread of all human endeavors, a truly universal cultural expression. 

Comb decorated with coins. Timor, Indonesia. Water buffalo horn, metal, “Young” Queen Victoria coins. 7.75 x 2.25 inches / 20 x 6 cm. 

Combs are an important aspect of headdress all over the world. As sculpture, they are signifiers of ethnicity, class, battle prowess, marriage status, and other social and religious cues. Great care is taken in their creation.
Visit the website to view the show.


Comb with pigments. Lamping, Indonesia. Water buffalo horn, metal, pigment. 6.25 x 5.25 inches / 16 x 13 cm.