Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1968 Dani kain
Subjectkain chief
Culture: (n)Dani
Setting: tribal warfare, Irian Jaya highlands mid-20thc
Object: ornaments


* Gardner/Heider 1968 p19 caption 18 
"Feathers of many different birds, along with snail, cowrie, and bailer shells, are the indispensable elements of Dani decoration."

* Heider 1991 p59
"Large pig tusks are often saved during the butchering and cut down and sharpened with flint chips.  Some are used as tools, making fine concave scrapers to smooth down adze handles or spears; or they can be used as ornaments inserted through a man's pierced nasal septum and worn in battle."

* Campbell 1991 p124
"The walimo, a bib of minute nassa snail shells, has a backing of woven bark fibre.  The fibre is rolled on the thigh to form a rough thread, more like string, and this is then woven into small strips which are sewn together to form the bib.  Lastly, the shells are stitched on.
   "Most male body ornaments are woven from various plant fibres to which are added feathers, shells and seeds."

* Borel/Taylor 1994 p211 caption
"Man's chest ornament from Irian Jaya (Dani). ...  Nassa shells -- tiny basket shells that live in fresh water or estuaries -- are widely used in Melanesian and Indonesian body adornment."

* Monbiot 1989 p59
"Every man had something hanging down over his chest: a shell, a bit of animal fur, a bunch of special seeds.  The Dani believed that the soul matter -- the edai egen -- lived just below the sternum.  It if wasn't protected from acquisitive spirits it would be snatched away when they were not expecting it."

* Kennett 1995 p181
"The Dani males ... wear a 'necktie' of cowrie shells as a throat protector -- as this is considered the entry point of the body for diseases and evil spirits."


* Campbell 1991 p123
"The suale is a magic wand of cassowary feathers bound onto a braided orchid fibre handle. Once used in warfare, it is now used only at male initiation ceremonies."

* Gardner/Heider 1968 p139
"Along with certain other possessions, such as any shell ornaments, a feather whisk, headdress or human hair itself, a man's spear is, in the language of his enemy, an ap warek, a dead man. "

* Gardner/Heider 1968 p137
"Everyone will wear what he has or can borrow to enhance his appearance.  Some will carry whisks made of feathers of the cassowary bird; others will take long, slender wands of pure white egret feathers."


* Macaraeg 2011 p14-15
"While writers have discussed Dani ornaments at length, they make no mention of fossils.  Furthermore, no fossil ornaments appear in the Dead Birds film or any of the published sources I have consulted. ...
   "Is it possible that ammonites are items recently imported into the Dani area now that it is being opened to outside contact?  Though generally isolated, traditional trade networks clearly existed with costal New Guinea, as bailer shells -- one of the most popular luxury materials among the Dani -- do not occur naturally in their landlocked home.  Another clue might be their level of finish -- the ammonites appear to have been competently removed from their matrices and often show some level of polish. ... Such work indicates the use of metal tools, which even now are uncommon in the highlands.
   "[...] [W]hile not yet knowing enough to decide either way, the circumstantial evidence suggests that the ammonite- is a newer, post-contact item, which has been incorporated into the Dani artistic idiom."


​* Campbell 1991 p124-126
"Noken are made of fibre from one of two trees known locally as hekelwalet and yanoguik.  Colours are derived from vegetable dyes mainly, the most common being yellow (cellig), white (yangguik in the highlands, or kuron in the lowlands), red (momion) and blue (balakie). Only the red dye is extracted from a mineral source, a local stone.
  "Sun-dried fibre is dipped into one of these dyes and then finger-woven across lengths of bamboo strips in a simple design of loops until the noken is long enough to hang from head to below the anus in order to prevent marauding ghosts from entering the body."