An image of Headdress for a warrior (meo)

Unknown Artist

Headdress for a warrior (meo)

Other titles:
Comb in form of bird with stand, Comb in form of bird, Comb/headress in form of bird
Not on display
Further information

Among the Atoni of Timor, the actions of warriors and headhunters were subject to a ritualised cult of warfare governed by ‘le’u musu’, a sacred force essential to success in battle and the spiritual welfare of the entire community. Strict taboos, divination ceremonies and talismanic blessings were all believed to render warriors invulnerable to their enemies. Infused with ‘le’u musu’ prior to battle, a warrior’s regalia of fine textiles, adornments and weapons expressed the wearer’s courage and glory.This pronged headdress would have been worn to the side or front of the head, the precious beads, metal discs and coins displayed prominently to dazzle enemies and demonstrate the wearer’s success, status and wealth. The combination of avian imagery emerging from a crescent-shaped form may refer, respectively, to the upper world and its winged messengers,and the moon and buffalo, both of which are associated with fertility.

Place of origin
West Timor, East Nusa Tenggara, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia
Cultural origin
19th century-20th century
wood, beads, Dutch East Indies coins
6.5 x 14.0 x 8.0 cm
Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010
Accession number
Nomadic Rug Traders, pre 2004, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased in Bali, Indonesia.
Mariann Ford, 2004-Dec 2010, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased from Nomadic Rug Traders (art dealership). Gift to the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010.