Among many of the indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea, items from their environment, like shells and ivory from boar's tusks, were valuable. Traded from group to group, resources from the coasts could be obtained by people living further inland. The more exotic the material, the more valuable it was considered. Bride price, valuable objects given by a groom's family to his future bride's family as an exchange for their loss, was often made of such valuable materials. Large bride price shells like this one were traded around the region and were valuable, in part, because they attested to the owner's success with exchanging items from other villages and cultures. The maker would use spiritually symbolic imagery in the shell attachment. Unfortunately, as bride price was traded from family to family, the original meaning became lost. However, the older a bride price, the more power and value it was believed to have.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
This file is licensed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea - social life and customs
Marriage customs and rights
Further information on this record can be found at its source.