Ceremonial jacket (sape buri)

Maloh peoples
early 20th century
more object details

General Description

An array of materials, colors, and textures create a vibrant, powerful composition on this woman’s ceremonial sleeveless jacket. Set amid the stitched shells are swatches of red, yellow, and green trade felt, metallic sequins, and strips of multicolored trade cloth. Along the border, Dutch silver coins dating back to 1701 dangle from a single strand of tacked glass beads. The open spaces between the jacket’s embellishments are filled with an interlocking mesh of protective designs, which form composite creatures that are said to be part dragon and part scorpion. The creatures’ eyes are highlighted by circles of red felt, which along with their ovoid mouths and flaring nostrils are composed of Nassarious shells.

According to some informants, jackets like this one were commonly worn by high-ranking Maloh women during the ritual of naming a child.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.