I purchased the shell piece that forms the base of the pendant from Objects and Elements. They called it Papua New Guinea Women’s Money. At first, I was just drawn to the beauty of the shell. I loved the unusual shape – almost like a slice cut from some larger shell. And the coloration- soft off-white with brown markings. But then I began to think about the name “women’s money.” What did it mean? Did the women use different money than men? And where in the world was Papua New Guinea? So, I looked it up.
I learned that Papua New Guinea is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean and is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and several offshore islands. The capital is Port Moresby. And it is fascinating.
Despite its small size, Papua New Guinea is very diverse with hundreds of ethnic groups, some with barely any contact with the outside world. And I learned that the term women’s money meant that traditionally the shells were used in dowries by grooms to obtain brides. I also had the good fortune to come across the exquisite photos of Eric Lafforgue, who has astonishing photos from Paupa New Guinea and other places around the world. His photos on Flickr are worth taking the time to look through. This is but one of many favorites.
So, while today, this shell is a pretty element of a necklace I made this past week, it’s so much more once I took the time to dig a little further.