Neck ornament

Production date
Pre 1990
Country
Papua New Guinea
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Object detail

Description
Shell necklace. Alternating cowrie shells and coix seeds on synthetic thread, with red and blue beads threaded on the necklace join.
Classification
CH classification INDIGENOUS CULTURES Melanesian & South Sea Islander neck ornament
Production date
Pre 1990
Production place
Measurements
L 590 x W 20 mm
Media/Materials description
Alternating cowrie shells and coix seeds on synthetic thread, with red and blue beads threaded on the necklace join.
History and use
Jewellery and pieces of personal adornment, such as this neck ornament, symbolise the wearer’s wealth or status.

This neck ornament is adorned with both coix seeds and cowrie shells, materials commonly used in decorative body ornaments. The necklace is a late 20th century design, with both red and blue artificial beads and synthetic twine used.

Body decoration, or bilas, is a significant social and cultural practice in Papua New Guinea. Bilas can take many forms: headdresses, body painting, the wearing of wigs, or wearing ornaments such as necklaces and body adornments. Bilas can display unity within a group, is used to celebrate significant events such as births, deaths, marriages and battles, and extends respect to ancestral spirits. Used in song and dance, wearers of different body adornments use the ornaments to demonstrate their group’s status, health, fertility, wealth and strength.

This object was collected by donor Peter Watt in 1990 and donated to the Museum of Tropical Queensland in 2012.
Associated person
Registration number
E40857

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