Shell Currency

Papua New Guinea

Lumi Area, W. Sepik Prov.

E. 20th Century

Clam Shell, Wood, Rattan



We muse on why there are so many different ages of rattan on this piece.  Shell currencies in this form are made for exchanging during bride price ceremonies and, less often, used in ritual payment.  Was it pieced out and drawn down like a lump sum in a bank account then built up again in times of plenty or when a desirable bride was available?