Wood Kina Necklace Mendi Valley Southern Highlands Province Papua New Guinea
|Size||17cm x 12cm|
This rare old Wood Kina Pendent from the Mendi Valley area in the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. This rare type of object is called a Somp Kina. In New Guinea the Gold Lipped Pearl Shell or Pinctada maxima is a very highly prized type of traditional wealth. Shells in general were highly valued as traditional wealth by the people in the interior of New Guinea where they had to travel through trading from the coast where they were collected to hundreds of kilometres through some of the most rugged terrain on the planet. These were used as an ornament during traditional and were also used as a traditional currency to pay bridal dowries paid by a young mans family. In pre European times even a small piece of gold pearl shell was valuable, this rare type of ornament carved from wood in the form of two crescent shaped gold lipped pearls that then had only a small piece of real shell set in resin on the wood ornament. The edge of the wood pendant is decorated with jobs tears or Coix lacryma-jobi seeds. This display showed how much gold lipped Kina Shell was valued.
These old Somp Kina pendants are a very rare type of traditional currency, in the months I spent travelling around Mendi Valley and the Southern Highlands I only ever collected 3-4 examples. These two old Somp Kina I field collected in Mendi Valley in 1985 and they were in the famous Elizabeth Pryce Collection for 35 years.
Provenance: Collected by Todd Barlin in Mendi in 1985, The Elizabeth Pryce Collection Sydney, The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Art & Oceanic Art
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