Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1927 Trobriand chief
Subject: chief
Culture: Trobriand Islander / Massim
Setting: Trobriand Islands late 19th - mid 20th c

Context (Period Sources, Event Photos)




* Malinowski 1922 p42
​"A few more words must be said here about sorcery, as this is a matter of great importance in all inter-tribal relations.  The dread of sorcery is enormous, and when the natives visit distant parts, this dread is enhanced by the additional awe of the unknown and foreign.  Besides the flying witches, there are, in Dobu, men and women who, by their knowledge of magical spells and rites, can inflict disease and cause death.  The methods of these sorcerers, and all the beliefs clustering round this subject are very much the same as those in the Trobriands which we shall meet later on.  These methods are characterised by being very rational and direct, and implying hardly any supernatural element.  The sorcerer has to utter a spell over some substance, and this must be administered by mouth, or else burnt over the fire in the victim's hut.  The pointing stick is also used by the sorcerers in certain rites."


* Malinowski 1932 p256
"Their dress is of the slightest, especially for men, who wear only a pubic leaf.  This is a narrow band which covers the pubic regions, the lower part of the abdomen, and the back up to the first lumbar vertebræ.  The band is attached, front and back, to a belt.  Usually above this support the man wears another ornamental belt, made sometimes of valuable material.  The pubic leaf is very carefully adjusted, so that the limited area which modesty demands should be hidden remains always precisely and carefully covered."


* Malinowski 1922 p52
"They wear the same classes of ornaments as the other Massim, consisting mainly of of fibre armlets and belts, earrings of turtle shell and spondylus discs, and they are very fond of using, for personal decoration, flowers and aromatic herbs."

​* Malinowski 1932 p257
"The natives adorn themselves with wreaths of aromatic blossom; put flowers, especially the red hibiscus, in their hair, and aromatic herbs or long leaves and streamers into their armlets.  Necklaces of shell and wild banana seed are worn, and armlets on the upper arm.  All men and women wear ear-rings and belts.
    "The body, as distinguished from the face, is very seldom painted, and no tattoo markings are ever visible."