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In MOA’s Drawers: Chokwe Comb

MOA’s Multiversity Galleries bring over 9,000 objects from around the world to public view. In most museums, collections of this magnitude are stored behind-the-scenes—so how exactly does MOA display so many objects within 14,500 square feet?

Stacked beneath an arrangement of towering glass display cases are a series of specially designed, state-of-the-art drawers. With a gentle tug on the long metal handles the drawers roll open, revealing cultural belongings from past and present to explore.

While the Multiversity Galleries’ drawers are designed to display thousands of objects, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to see them all in one visit. If you’re not sure where to begin in exploring the myriad of objects on display, try finding this elegant comb.

Chokwe Comb, by unknown maker

MOA collection: Ac250. Photo by Derek Tan.

While you’re combing through the objects in the Multiversity Galleries, check out this intriguing Chokwe piece from Angola. Made from wood, the handle of this ten-toothed comb includes a carving of a human figure crouched forward with their elbows resting on their knees. Otherwise known as the Thinker, this figure symbolizes Angola national culture. This piece would typically be worn to hold together hair set by castor oil and red mud. Despite the comb’s modesty, it isn’t an object to merely brush off.

Find me: Case 100, Drawer 4