Bowers Museum Unveils New Exhibition:
“Art of Adornment: Tribal Beauty”
Opening February 12, 2006

2002 N. Main St. Santa Ana, CA 92706
Contact: Rick Weinberg, Director of Public Relations & Marketing
Tel: 714-567-3642 / Cell 714-552-2842 / Fax: 714-567-3633
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(l.) Headdress Ornament, 100 B.C. – A.D. 300, Nazca Culture, South Coast of Peru.
(r.) Hornbill Ear Ornament, 20th Century, Dyak Culture, Kalimantan, Borneo.

Exhibition focuses on the tribal aesthetic of body adornment from indigenous peoples around the world.

(Santa Ana, CA) – Bowers Museum will unveil its newest exhibition, “Art of Adornment: Tribal Beauty”, on Sunday, February 12, 2006, in the newly dedicated Susan and Stephen Chandler Gallery.

Tribal art represents the art of the world's indigenous people. In many of these indigenous cultures, there isn’t a word for “art.” Instead, there is an inherent aesthetic incorporated into the people's daily life.  This can be seen in all aspects of their life from preparation of food, hunting and warfare, ceremony and religion, and in the way they enhance their appearance in body adornment.

“Art of Adornment: Tribal Beauty” will feature 70 rare and spectacular treasures and will focus on the tribal aesthetic of body adornment from indigenous peoples around the world. The primary areas featured in the exhibition include:
• Pacific Islands: Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia
• Africa: Peoples of the Niger, Nomads of North Africa and SubSaharan Africa
• China and Southeast Asia: Tribal People of China and Southeast Asia, Southeast Asian archipelagos and Tribal India
• The Americas: Pre-Columbian America and The Native American West

Tribal aesthetic has inspired contemporary fashion and art for more than a century.  It can be extraordinarily sophisticated in its simplicity of form and strength in executing. In “Art of Adornment: Tribal Beauty”, museum goers will see some of the Bowers’ most striking examples.

Some of the featured objects in the exhibition include:
Hornbill Ear Ornament, 20th Century, Dyak Culture, Kalimantan, Borneo. This finely carved ear ornament made from the bill of a hornbill bird exhibits an "Oso" figure. The Oso is a very special figure among the Dyak headhunters of Borneo.  
Gold Earrings, 19th-20th century, Fulani People, Mali. The large gold earrings called "Kwottenai" are worn by married Fulani women in the West African county of Mali.  The earrings are handed down from generation to generation; mother to daughter or by purchase when a husband buys one for his wife. These gold earrings can become quite large, representing the accumulated wealth of several generations. They are formed from gold bars that are beaten into thin blades, which are then formed into a crescent shape.
Headdress Ornament, 100 B.C. – A.D. 300, Nazca Culture, South Coast of Peru. Hammered gold, repoussé headdress ornaments such as this exceptionally large one are usually attributed to the Nazca culture of southern Peru. Typically, the iconography focuses on a stylized, oblong frontal face repeated at different scales, with circular eyes and what appear to be mustaches and short beards.  Rows of circles of various dimensions and zigzag patterns fill the spaces between two faces.  Two pairs of perforations on either side of the central face suggest that the object may have been worn affixed to a turban or a headdress although there are no depictions in the art of the region to confirm this use.  
Whale Tooth Necklace, "Wasekaseka or Waseisei", 18th – 19th Century, Fiji. Whale teeth were highly valued in Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa and were therefore reserved for those of chiefly stations.  This example is typical of the "saber – toothed" necklaces of long split teeth as whale teeth became more plentiful with the advent of European commercial whaling in the early to mid 19 century.
Gold Ornament (Marangga), Sumba, Indonesia, unknown origin. Worn on the chest, particularly in the west of the island of Sumba, these gold ornaments are usually kept by high ranking families as part of their sacred family treasure.

All images of the exhibition’s objects are available by emailing <> or calling 714-567-3642.

“Art of Adornment: Tribal Beauty” will open with a $1,000 candlelight black-tie dinner celebrating the opening of the Chandler Gallery as well as the 70th anniversary of the Bowers Museum, which opened February 15, 1936. The Susan and Stephen Chandler Gallery is a permanent gallery dedicated to Tribal Art.

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