Shell money

TU2007.6-36, token, 14.5″L, 5.5″W, Bush Valley, Denise O’ Brien Collection.  The paper tag reads “Belium Valley NNG” and “Welimo luw from Dolimo”.

The token, shown above, is a form of currency made in New Guinea.  A closer examination reveals its intricate construction.  Once again, thanks to Heather – a more careful description can be recorded.

The piece is made up of many wrapped strips.  Each strip is made up of two thin pieces of wood which are wrapped with plant fibers.  Tiny cowry shells are attached to the front of the strips via a plant fiber thread in a running stitch.

The back of the artifact. Note the separate wrapped pairs of slim wooden strips which lend a braided effect.  Twine connects the strips in an irregular pattern.

In a running stitch, the stitch and the length between the stitches is equal.

Microscopic detail of the plant based fibers used in wrapping, stitching and twining the piece.


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