Chest ornament

Production date
Pre 1990
Papua New Guinea
East Sepik
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Object detail

Chest ornament with Kina shell pendant; half moon gold-lip pearl shell suspended from plaited plant fibre necklace, Nassarius shell inset in resin/mud at suspension terminals.
CH classification INDIGENOUS CULTURES Melanesian & South Sea Islander body ornament
Production date
Pre 1990
When folded: L 215 x W 220 mm
Gold lipped pearl shell, "KINA" Traditional Bride price
History and use
Kina shell’s like the one adorning this chest ornament were used as one of the initial forms of currency in Papua New Guinea, alongside traditional shell money. The shells were a sign of wealth - the more golden the colour, the higher the value.

An attached label tied to the object reads, ‘KINA Traditional Bride Price’. This note indicates that this ornament was part of a bride price. A bride price is a traditional custom wherein money and property is paid by a groom and his family to the bride’s family. The practice is similar in concept to that of a ‘dowry’.

This object was collected by donor Peter Watt in 1990 and donated to the Museum of Tropical Queensland in 2012.
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