The answer is pests. In this case the pest is the case-bearing clothes moth, Tinea pellionella. The
little black pellets are the insect's frass (droppings).
The moth's larva (caterpillar) lives in a case covered in fibres from whatever it has eaten - in this case
the figure's dress. It feeds on anything containing keratin
(the protein your hair is made of) such as wool, feathers and
even dead animals (cotton, linen and synthetics would be
unaffected). It grows to a length of about 1cm then turns into a
pupa while in its case. The adult moth later emerges.
When conservators examined the figure only
frass and empty cocoons were found. Several weeks later no new
caterpillars or adult moths had appeared and there was no new damage.
Now we need to decide how to deal with the damage. Remember that there are no live moths here.
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