Headrest (Amba Ragat)


Not on view

Like many Pacific peoples, the Iatmul use wood headrests, which serve as pillows on which to rest the head or neckduring sleep. Called amba ragat (literally, head stool), Iatmul headrests consist of a plain central section that accommodates the user’s head and is flanked by carved finials depicting totemic animals or ancestral beings. The central portion of this work is grasped by two female figures, who may represent a pair of legendary sisters from oral tradition. The figures have eyes inlayed with shell and heads embellished with coiffures made from locks of human hair. Their bodies are adorned with miniature versions of personal ornaments, including shell or fiber necklaces, bracelets, and anklets.

Headrest (Amba Ragat), Sekatbente, Wood, shell, hair, fiber, paint, Iatmul people

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