Dayak is a generic term that refers to a number of indigenous communities that live in the adjoining countries of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia on the island of Borneo. Whilst there are significant differences in the way these communities are stratified and organised most Dayak believe in a bifurcated soul. One soul is believed to expire once the corpse has vanished, the other remains in the area of the deceased until it can be coaxed into making the journey to the other world.
Among the Dayaks and across Indonesia more generally many animals such as the dugong, deer, buffalo and sperm whale as well as the elephant were used as a source of ivory. Many tools and decorative objects were carved from ivory and used in daily activities such as bracelets, handles and boxes. Others would be used on ritual occasions and even for the hilts of the Mandau swords used in head hunting raids by the Dayak. This particular bracelet has been fashioned from the skull of the Hornbill bird and whilst it is attributed to the Dayak people similar bracelets can be found across the archipelago.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, April 2015