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Headrest (Dinka People, Republic of South Sudan) - Dinka Headrests
Headrest (Dinka People, Republic of South Sudan)
7.5 x 18.5 x 7 ″Hand carved from a single, hardwood block.
This headrest was constructed by the Dinka People of the Republic of South Sudan. The process of preserving the structure and finishes of such pieces requires a deep knowledge of craft as transmitted through centuries via oral tradition. Typically, these headrests feature two or three (as in this object) legs or “links.” The piece is further distinguished by its carved teeth and angular, sculpted ornamentation, which for women, also functions to situate the hair so it does not mangle while sleeping. By social custom, the headrest is also conceptualized as a vehicle for communication with Dinka ancestors: “…dreams are considered to be sent by ancestors, and because dreams are dreamt on headrests, the headrest is a kind of antenna, and the strength of the signal is increased if the headrest is inherited from a senior relative” (Nettleton 2007).
REFERENCES: Nettleton, Anitra. 2007. African Dream Machines: Style, Identity and Meaning of African Headrests. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.