Anslem de Silva


Head ornaments made from the scutes of the carapace or the upper shell of the hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) worn by some men and women in the costal areas are discussed. These artefacts are the common horseshoe-shape bent head comb known as Nemi panawa and the Kelin panawa (upright comb), ladies hair pins, spoon shaped hair clips and the ladies half moon shape hair combs, some with intricate engravings. The possible origin of these head ornaments turned out from marine turtle scutes used in Sri Lanka, its peak period and the decline of using these head ornaments in the country including one possible cause for the decline in the populations of the hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) due to the marine turtle shell industry over the past two thousand years are discussed.

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