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Title

Headband

mid 20th century

Artists

Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    probably Wahgi people
    Date
    mid 20th century
    Media categories
    Textile , Jewellery
    Materials used
    barkcloth, nassa shells, plant fibre string
    Dimensions
    11.5 cm width; 58.5 cm length overall
    Credit
    Gift of Peter Sack 2016
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    224.2016
    Copyright
    © under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics

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  • About

    Headbands made by sewing drilled and polished nassa shells onto a band of barkcloth, banana leaf, or other support were found in many Papua New Guinea highland cultures. In pre-contact times, nassa shells were traded from the north coast along the Jimi River into the Mount Hagen region. For many highlanders, the source of shells was unknown. The Huli and Wola of the southern highlands believed nassa shells were harvested from an enormous tree. The Telefolmin of the western highlands thought they emanated from the corpse of a man.

    Before the 1940s nassa shells were rare. Valuable shell headbands – often worn by men in battle – were gifted as part of wealth exchange ceremonies together with ropes of cowrie shells. When the Australian administration began bringing large quantities of nassa shells directly into the highlands, large mats of shells began to circulate and were included as part of bride price payments. Pearlshells and cash eventually superseded nassa shells as important bride wealth items.

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    Papua New Guinea