Papua New Guinea
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Body decoration, or bilas, is a significant social and cultural practice in Papua New Guinea. Bilas can take many forms: headdresses, body painting, the wearing of wigs, or wearing ornaments such as necklaces and body adornments. Bilas can display unity within a group, is used to celebrate significant events such as births, deaths, marriages and battles, and extends respect to ancestral spirits. Used in song and dance, these ornaments are worn to demonstrate their group’s status, health, fertility, wealth and strength.
Head combs have become a common form of souvenir created more and more frequently for tourist sales.
This object was collected by donor Peter Watt in 1990 and donated to the Museum of Tropical Queensland in 2012.