Category Archives: Gina Hellweger

Gina Hellweger: Tribal Art from Sumatra and the Philippines

Would you share a table with me?

I will show you some tribal combs and art I’ve collected from Sumatra (the big silver comb in the center) and the Philippines.

This wooden comb decorated with wild boar siblings comes from the Philippine island of Palawan.

In Northern Luzon, the Cordilleran language group has several dialects. One of them is spoken in the Ifugao province. This tortoiseshell and gold comb comes from there.

Also from Ifugao are this ceremonial dipper made out of medium-heavy wood, showing a standing woman figure

…and an early, traditional eating spoon. It is finely carved and features a kneeling Bulul, or rice-god figure

These are the Banaue Rice Terraces of Ifugao. They are 2000 years old and were carved into the mountains.

These reddish amber ear plugs are Burmese. They were made by people who speak the Hkakhu dialect of Jingpho, which is mainly spoken in Kachin State, Burma, and Yunnan Province, China.

From the Northern Luzon Mountain Province’s capital city of Bontoc come these brass earrings.

The Ilongot people of Northern Luzon made mother-of-pearl earrings. They have a tradition of headhunting.

This Ilongot woman’s earring portrays joined circles of mother-of-pearl shell with a beaded decoration.

A headhunter’s armlet, called “tankil,” is made from two tusks and a wooden figure. When a young man has reached the age of initiation, he must go alone into the mountain to hunt for a wild pig, whose tusk will be used to make the armlet. Only after that can the young man participate in a headhunting expedition. The tankil is worn during ritual ceremonies throughout Northern Luzon, Philippines


For more scholarly research, please examine

Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

Gina Hellweger: Ethiopian Judaeo-Christian Art for Sale

Ethiopia enjoys a well-developed tradition in iconography, manuscript illumination, calligraphy, book art, metal work, woodcarving and many other art forms. Ethiopia althrough surrounded by Muslim countries has a thriving Orthodox Church and a proud Judaeo-Christian history, tracing back to the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon.

The original Ark of the Covenant, a gilded wooden box containing the stone tablets of the law ( 10 commandments ) received by Moses from God on the Mount Sinai, is thought to reside in a church in Axum ( ancient former capital city ) A replica of these tablets ( Tabot ) is placed in the Holy of Holies at the heart of each Ethiopian Orthodox church.

There are carved wooden crosses, mini-towers, book-like pendants, complex fold out pieces open out with little doors on string hinges, revealing miniature icons inside, painted icons adorn metal crosse as well as wooden diptychs and triptychs, others are painted on goatskin.

If you are interested in purchasing one or more of these pieces or more information contact OFER DANIELI or GINA HELLWEGER on Facebook. Or, you can contact BarbaraAnne through this blog, and she will she will get the information to us. The prices are affordable. If you mention our blog, you get a 5% discount and free shipping.


For more scholarly research, please examine these books, which have been added to our Resource Library

Ethiopian Art: The Walters Art Museum

The Indigenous and the Foreign in Christian Ethiopian Art: On Portuguese-Ethiopian Contacts in the 16th-17th Centuries


Gina Hellweger: Chinese Hair Ornament Collection

Our author Gina Hellweger has such a wonderous array of antique Chinese hair ornaments, it was difficult to pick pieces that would express the depth of knowledge and life experience that is present in her collection. Here are just a few items for your eyes’ feast.


For more scholarly research, please see these books, which can be found in our Resource Library.

Kingfisher Blue: Treasures of an Ancient Chinese Art

The Art of Silver Jewellery: From the Minorities of China

Jewelry of Southeast Asia

Jen Cruse: Mongolian Hair Ornaments From Our Community

Written by Jen Cruse, featuring the collections of Gina Hellweger and The Creative Museum.

Mongol women traditionally wore their thick black hair tied in long plaits falling forward onto their shoulders, placing slightly curved silver combs flat on the top of the head. On festive and celebratory occasions, however, distinctive and colourful costumes were offset by an elaborate headdress constructed over a metal frame and decorated with numerous silver ornaments, temple pendants, combs and hairpins, all richly enhanced by the liberal use of red coral, turquoise and amber sets and coloured enamelling. For the Mongolians, coral symbolized blood, fire and light; turquoise, water, sky and air; amber, the earth.

The two silver hairpins illustrated are decorated with coral beads and coloured enamel. These hairpins were once part of the lavish and complex head ornamentation worn by Mongolian women when dressed in traditional costume; late 19th or early 20th century. Length 4¾ ins/12.1cm.

To my fellow author, and noted collector of tribal arts, Gina Hellweger, thank you for contributing this Mongolian parure. Here we can see how they expressed blood, fire, light, water, air, and sky in all its intense beauty. Gina’s parure is made from silver, decorated with enamel, turquoise, and coral.

She was also kind enough to contribute these two sets of Mongolian hair ornaments, made of the same materials.

Mongolians also symbolized their world with jade, pearls, and black agate. From the vaults of the Creative Museum comes this magnificent, rare barrette. A brass medallion full of pearls surrounds a stone of black agate.

The museum has also contributed this silver hairpin, which is decorated with jade beads and carved flowers. Some traces of the enamel still remain.

These two silver slide bars are intricately carved with happiness motifs.

It is an honor for me to bring our community together, so we can all be inspired to learn more about the Mongolian decorative arts.


For more scholarly research, please see the Creative Museum’s exhibition on Chinese and Japanese hair ornaments, as well as these books, which have been added to our Resource Library.

Mongol Jewelry: Jewelry Collected by the First and Second Danish Central Asian Expeditions
The Art of Silver Jewellery: From the Minorities of China

The Comb: Its History and Development

Gina Hellweger: Incised Bone Hair Pin, Li Ethnic Minority, China

The Li ethnic minority lives mainly in the center and south of Hainan Province. According to historical records, they have been on Hainan Island for over 3000 years. The Li people have the earliest weaving techniques in Chinese history. They are skilled in spinning and weaving silk cotton. Today, their traditional clothing is only worn at festivals or ceremonies.

Hair pins were favorites of men when they presented gifts to their lovers, and women often took them as tokens of love for their boyfriends. China’s ethnic minorities have a tradition of using hair pins to fix up their hair. The hair pins are of diversified varieties with long histories, rich national features and cultural implications.

In Hainan, Li women wear a decoration where they once carried a weapon. This is called a “virgin’s hair dress.” The incised ox rib is an adoption from the blade which women once wore to protect their honor. Ornamental patterns like waves, fish, flowers, fruits, and geometric designs cover the pins.

These pins are made by craftsmen using ox or other long gently curved white bones, which are polished, then carved. Lampblack and melted beeswax are used to make the pattern stand out against the white bone. The decoration on top is a helmet, turban or hair that is coiled. Then the bone ornament is adorned with either one or two heads, and the body extends to the feet or the end of the pin.

The hair pins that are very delicately carved into the shape of a human being are said to represent a warrior ancestor and tribal leader protecting his people. The beautiful incised bone pin is inserted in a typical “Run-Style Hair,” worn in a bun, by Run-dialect-speaking women. When the women marry, they wear numerous hair pins depicting their ancestors to bring good luck and blessings.


For more scholarly research, please examine these books, which have been added to our Resource Library.

Ethnic Minorities Of China

The Art of Silver Jewellery: From the Minorities of China
Article: Among the Big Knot Lois of Hainan: Wild Tribesman with Topknots Roam Little-Known Interior of This Big China Sea Island

Gina Hellweger and Kajetan Fiedorowicz: Black Tai Hair Pin from North Vietnam

Gina Hellweger collected this silver hair pin topped with a French coin from 1936. Kajetan Fiedorowicz identified it. It was made by the Black Tai Dam.

In 1250 BC, the Mongols destroyed the Tai kingdom of Nan Chao, and all the ethnic groups who made up the Tai people left China. Each group had distinct languages and customs.

The Black Tai followed a tributary of the Red River, called the Black River, and settled in highland valleys of northwestern Vietnam and northeastern Laos. Religion centered around the worship of spirits and ancestors, and they believed in a multiple personal soul. Black Tai’s had darker skin, wore black, and were quite different from the White and Red Tai’s. As a woman born in 1939 wrote, “Bravery, discipline, stoicism, physical toughness, and loyalty are the ethical values of our mountain warriors.”

The White Tai settled in South Vietnam. In 1889, a White Tai leader formed an alliance with Chinese opium traders and defeated the Siamese, who had conquered Vietnam in 1782. Siam tried to stop this with the help of the Black Tai, but failed. Four years later, the French took over.

From 1940 – 1954, the French forced Black Tai farmers to increase their opium production, while their allies, White Tai feudal leaders, underpaid them because farmers had no other market for their crops.

In 1941, Ho Chi Minh left Europe after having embraced Communist ideology. He married a Black Tai woman, established a Communist government in 1945, incorporated the Black Tai into the Viet Minh army, and defeated the French at the famous battle of Dien Ben Phu in 1954.

Northwestern Vietnam after Dien Ben Fu, 1954

Black Tai village 2 kilometers away from Laos today

Black Tai woman in the rice fields