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Two Superb Old Bailer Shell Necklaces from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea


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Collection No. TB-783 a -b
Size Heights: 26cm & 28cm
Two Superb Old Bailer Shell Necklaces from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Two Superb Old Bailer Shell Necklaces from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Two Superb Old Bailer Shell Necklaces from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Two Superb Old Bailer Shell Necklaces from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Two Superb Old Bailer Shell Necklaces from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Two Superb Old Bailer Shell Necklaces from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Two Superb Old Bailer Shell Necklaces from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Two Superb Old Bailer Shell Necklaces from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea

These Two Superb Large Old Bailer Shell Necklaces are from the Mendi Valley Area of the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. They date from the 19th Century and have a beautiful warm patina from generations of use.

These large Bailer Shell Necklaces were not just pretty ornaments to wear but also an important type of traditional wealth and currency that was used to pay for bridal dowries, land disputes, or given as a sign of respect during funerals of important clan leaders both men & women.

These are the most beautiful examples I had field-collected and I have kept them in my private collection for 38 years.  These ornaments would have taken a huge amount of time to make using traditional tools, cutting them with sand and bamboo friction method.

As you can see in the field photos they are worn the convex side out & equally worn by both men and women.

Most shell ornaments made in New Guinea were not only objects of great beauty but all a store of traditional wealth that families & clans kept & used and traded and received for generations.

The Highlands areas of New Guinea are a long way to the coast where shells were found, they are traded and slowly work their way through walking tracks through different communities and finally reach the Highlands people where they are important objects of traditional wealth.

The fertile Highlands have long been inhabited and artifacts uncovered in the Ivane Valley indicate that the Highlands were first settled about 50,000 years ago. The inhabitants were nomadic foragers but around 10,000 years ago began developing a fairly advanced agricultural society.  The Highlands were not settled by the Western powers during the early colonial period and they were first visited by western zoologists and explorers, such as Mick Leahy who opened the Wahgi Valley and Mount Hagen, and Richard Archbold in the 1930s.

I spent several years in the early 1980s traveling to remote areas in both West Papua & Papua New Guinea collecting & documenting traditional art & ceremonies, much of what I collected is now in important museums & private collections around the world.

Large old Bailer Shells like these two were rare and still highly valued when I was there 40 years ago.

These beautiful shell ornaments and others I am starting to list on my website were from my private collection that I have kept for 40 years and I am now ready to sell due to age & health.   Keep looking at my website as I will be adding beautiful art to all the galleries & sub-galleries regularly.

Provenance The Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic & New Guinea Arts & Arts of West Papua Indonesia

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If you have a similar “object” for sale please contact me for the best price and honest advice by a Government approved valuer 

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