Adornment is a universal ritual. More than mere exhibition, many of these objects are deeply spiritual, demonstrating the wearer’s distance inward. The diverse and creative examples of personal adornment are staggering. Whether it is in or out of fashion, ancient or contemporary, it is the manner in which people express their cultural differences. Some use decoration as permanent as body scarification or tattoos while other use material that is transient like feathers or leaves. Ultimately, adornment is to attract attention to one’s body and by extension the religious beliefs, social values or economic status of the wearer.
Adornment in so many forms is fashioned from materials such as gold, silver, shell, feathers, textile, bone, human hair and precious gems. Depending on culture and custom, men and women wear equally splendid creations. Male adornment is a rich topic unto itself that includes everything from ear ornaments to gorgeously carved weapons. These objects are often imbued with talismanic properties.
Precious materials that are fashioned into wearable objects are meant to communicate in the aesthetic dimensions of a society. After all, attention is demanded by the striking beauty of the most opulent adornments, sometimes made from rubies, emeralds, sapphires and gold. These objects serve the same function today as they did in ancient society - to be seen, admired and to act as an instant visual communication of wealth and status. The exhibition’s ambitious scope reflects the infinite nature of a topic that fuses personal expression with social convention.