Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Mentawai Islands, ca. early to mid 20th century CE. An incredibly rare shaman's kit, stored inside a handmade sago palm leaf box with a braided rattan strap. The box opens to reveal the costume of the shaman: a folded, coarse red-brown cloth and beaded bands for the head and wrists made using European glass trade beads as well as a long chain of European glass trade beads to be used as a necklace. There are also two wands made from raffia, cloth strips, and feathers. Each of these items has a specific purpose in the shaman's practice, which focuses on healing. This item was field collected by the consignor after he did a kind act for a shaman while visiting the Mentawai Islands. The shaman, who was around 80 years old and had no sons, gave this gift of his kit. Size of palm leaf box, which contains everything: 7" W x 20.75" H (17.8 cm x 52.7 cm); size does not include strap.
For the people of the Mentawai Islands, shamans occupy a central role in the society. They have "seeing eyes" which they use to perceive spirits and souls that occupy all living things - humans, animals, and plants. They believe that illness of any kind is caused by the soul wandering, and shamans use kits like this to lure a stray soul back to its rightful place, for example using shiny ornaments to draw a soul to them. Shamans also use these items during ceremonies and rituals where they try to prevent souls from straying by giving them ornaments and flowers.
Provenance: private Nevada, USA collection, field collected by the consignor.
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
Wear commensurate with age and handling on all components. These items have clearly been used for their intended purposes.