Comb with Two Female Figures
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Comb with Two Female Figures

Kwere, Tanzania

51. Comb with Two Female Figures. Kwere Culture, Tanzania

Among the Kwere of Tanzania, elaborately decorated hair combs such as this would have been gifted by a man to a woman to commemorate a milestone in the woman’s life. This large Kwere comb allows us to witness a rite of passage - the braiding of a young girl’s hair. The comb is surmounted by two carved female figures, likely an older and younger woman - the older crowned with a distinct coiffure. The older woman sits and styles the hair of the younger woman, a figure depicted with raised breasts and her hand resting on her stomach. Below the figures, the handle of the comb is adorned with a series of engraved zigzag lines. The braiding of hair into tiny plaits is a signifier of a Kwere girl’s transformation of status during a young female's initiation rite. This rite, performed when the girl reaches puberty, is a celebration of her entry into womanhood.


J.L. Brain (2012) ‘Symbolic Rebirth', Cambridge University Press, pp. 179-180

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H (Excl. Stand): 29 CM
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