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Necklace from a Saibai Island dance costume by Charles Warusam

Date: 1997
Dimensions:
Overall: 485 x 195 x 15 mm, 0.15 kg
Medium: Wood, string, mother of pearl
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Ceremonial artefact
Object Name: Necklace
Object No: 00031032
Place Manufactured:Saibai Island

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    Description
    This right arm band was commissioned by the Australian National Museum from Charles Warusam and is from the Waia family, Saibai Island in Torres Strait. It is made from woven plant fibre, paint and cassowary feathers. It is part of an adult male semi traditional costume that also includes a dhari, two arm bands, two knee bands, a grass skirt and a rattle.
    SignificanceTorres Strait Islanders have always taken pride in dance performance and it remains a strength of their contemporary culture. From island to island the dance and its artefacts vary but everywhere dance has a broad cultural and social significance as an integral part of ritual, religion and warfare.Saibai Islanders are considered some of the best dancers.The costumes are used at dance festivals, tombstone unveilings, official occasions and recently during Saiba Island's fight for recognition of land and sea rights.
    HistoryDance and language are important cultural markers in the Torres Strait. Proficiency in both is highly regarded, but dance is the most visible expression of islander culture and the artefacts associated with dance dominate the material culture of theTorres Strait.
    The dance movements from the semi-traditional dance come from the pearl shell, the movements reflect that of a white shell when thrown into the water. As the shell sinks it moves from side to side and just before it settled on the bottom it does it quickly.
    Dancers move their heads imitating these quick movements.
    A persons ability to sing and dance can contribute to their social standing. Such dancing transcends everyday life concerns. Creation spirits tied to particular geographical locations transmit knowledge of the land and sea through their songs and dancers. By performing these dancers, the time between past and present is closed for those who own the dance.
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