A Fine Massim Red Shell Money Necklace Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea
This beautiful old Necklace from Massim Culture in The Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea. The necklace made of large pink shell money discs with an old Boars Tusk as the centre piece. The back of the necklace has a white egg cowrie shell and two pearl shell dangles. It is a Kula Ornament
Personal Ornaments in New Guinea and the Pacific Islands are some of the most beautiful objects made by the indigenous people of the Pacific Islands. Ornaments made from shells or animal teeth are not only decorations to wear but they are part of the traditional wealth and currency used by native people. They are used to pay for bridal dowries by a young mans family or as compensation for different types of disputes like over land for gardens or used in traditional ceremonies where giving wealth to others creates future obligations or debts.
Kula valuables traded purely for purposes of enhancing one’s social status and prestige. Carefully prescribed customs and traditions surround the ceremonies that accompany the exchanges which establish strong, ideally lifelong relationships between the exchange parties (karayta’u, “partners”). The act of giving is a display of the greatness of the giver, accompanied by shows of exaggerated modesty in which the value of what is given is actively played down. Such a partnership involves strong mutual obligations such as hospitality, protection and assistance. Kula valuables never remain for long in the hands of the recipients; rather, they must be passed on to other partners within a certain amount of time, thus constantly circling around the ring. However, even temporary possession brings prestige and status. Important chiefs can have hundreds of partners while less significant participants may only have fewer than a dozen.
Provenance: the late David Baker (1943-2009 ) he was the president of The Oceanic Arts Society of Australia and was a great collector, expert & supporter of Oceanic Art & Cultures.
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