Shell Currency

Production date
1922-1941
Country
Papua New Guinea
State/Province
East New Britain
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Object Detail


Description
Shell Currency, or tambu, consisting of 35 Nassarius pullus shell sections threaded on cane.
Classification
CH classification INDIGENOUS CULTURES Melanesian & South Sea Islander currency
Maker
Measurements
L177 mm
Media/Materials description
Shell and rattan
History and use
Tambu was and still is the traditional currency used in New Britain. Twelve shells is roughly equal to ten toea (the Papua New Guinean monetary currency).

Following the end of the north-west monsoons, the Nassa shell is collected, its upper curvature is removed and the individual flatter pieces are then lined up on strips of rattan.

The nassa shell, though used as both currency and as an ornamental item, is prepared differently according to its function.

Uploaded to the Web 27 May 2011.
Registration number
E17700.2

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