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National Museum of Australia

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Carved pearlshell pendant that resembles a dhari headdress with a drum below it

2002.0009.0001

Carved pearlshell pendant that resembles a dhari headdress with a drum below it

Object information

Physical description

A small carved pearlshell pendant that resembles a dhari headdress with a drum below it. An engraved inscription on the verso reads, 'WAS / 02'.

Statement of significance

The 'Tony Shibasaki Collection' of pearlshell carvings from Mr Tony Shibasaki are from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. The pearlshell carvings illustrates the contemporary expression of Torres Strait Islander culture. It also represents the diversity of the pearlshell industry thoughout the Torres Strait with the boom in the 1920s and decline during the 1960s.

The Morning Star carving represents the iconic sysmbolism of the Torres Strait Islander Dhari (headdress) unifying the people of the Torres Strait Islands. The Dhari was traditionally worn by men during warfare and today is worn for dancing and ceremony. The Morning Star (or 5-pointed star) represents the five island groups in the Torres Strait. The Dhari carving with drum connected on the bottom shows the diverse style of headdress in the Torres Strait. The drum is symbolic of dance and ceremony and used as a musical instrument. These two works reveal the cultural expression of contemporary forms through the medium of carving.

Object information

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