A Fine Shell Money & Cowrie Shell Necklace Malaita Island Solomon’s
This beautiful old Necklace is made from red shell money discs and a large white cowrie shell. I collected it from the old man in the photo at Lau Lagoon on the northeast of the island of Malaita in the Solomon Islands. I have his name and village in my field notes. I remember the day clearly visiting some villages and the very kind people always invited you to stay for food or tea, the man in the photo was my host & he very friendly and welcoming. It was June 1986 ( 34 years ago) that I collected the necklace. Later it was part of the world-famous Elizabeth Pryce Collection.
Shell Money Necklaces are an important type of traditional currency in the Solomon Islands and throughout the Pacific Island in general. Traditional wealth objects like this Necklace were often part of a bridal dowry or used payments for compensation in disputes about land or gardens.
The Lau Lagoon is famous for its manmade artificial islands that were made by collecting and piling large chunks of coral over a prolonged period, these villages were once on the mainland of Malaita but during pre- European times warfare caused the people to seek safety by building these artificial islands which were easy to defend. Living on the islands gave the people a huge resource in fishing & they traded fish with people on the mainland of Malaita for vegetables and other important items. The old man clearly remembered the fighting between the Japanese & Americans during WWII when all the islanders moved into the interior of Malaita to avoid the fighting.
Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Solomon Islands Art
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