Neck ornament (shell currency)

Production date
Solomon Islands
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Object Detail

Shell money necklace of orange, brown and white shell disks. Pendant of tortoiseshell cross with pearl shell inlay
CH classification INDIGENOUS CULTURES Melanesian & South Sea Islander neck ornament
CH classification COSTUME ACCESSORIES Jewellery necklace
Production place
L. 270mm
Media/Materials description
Shell, tortoiseshell
small chains \ might be useful \ or\ join sone together. \ They are gifts from the Mothers' Union
History and use
This object is from the Helen Barrett collection, which was donated to Queensland Museum in 2014. Miss Helen Barrett worked as a nurse with the Australian Board of Mission in Solomon Islands from 1947 until 1984. Barrett was based at Tasia in Isabel Province, and Maravovo on Guadalcanal before being stationed at the Hospital of the Epiphany at Fauabu, Malaita from 1968 until 1984. In the 1990s, Barrett worked with the Mothers Union in the Torres Strait Islands. Her collection largely comprises of objects that were presented as gifts over the course of her missionary work in Melanesia.

Chains of fine shell disks are a traditional form of currency in some parts of Solomon Islands. This shell money necklace also reveals the influence of Christianity in the region through the turtleshell pendant in the form of a cross.
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