Pectoral "Kina"


Huli-people. Hela, Papua New Guinea, early 20th century.

The Huli (called also Haroli) are indigenous people who live in the Hela province of Papua New Guinea. They speak primarily Huli and Tok Pisin. Though Papua New Guinea is home for over 300 diverse indigenous tribes, with a population numbering over 90,000, the Huli people are one of the largest cultural groups by far (over 250,000 people).

Huli people support themselves through hunting and agriculture. In Huli culture, wealth is counted by how many pigs one person owns. The pig is a common exchange used to pay bride's dowry, death indemnites, and other ritual payments.

This remarkable pectoral called "Kina" are carved in half moon shape from a enormous shell called Gold Lip Shell (Pinctada Maxima) and drilled with various small dots to accentuate the shape. Used as currency (other well-known currencies are pigs, cowrieshells and shell disc pendants) and as a high status adornment. These shells are valued all over Papua New Guinea but particularily in the Highlands where contact between tribes traditionally brought the shells very slowly from the coast to the mountain valley.

Unique Kina pectoral are the part of the ex-collections of the closed museum/foundation from the Netherlands. Good condition. Age-related wear. String are newer. Signs of heavy use over many years. Wonderful golden lustrous patina. Size approx. 19cm x 4,5cm x 0,4cm.