Pearl Neck Ornament


Kina, breast ornaments made of gold lip pearl shell, are rare treasures symbolizing wealth and prosperity. They were worn either alone or in multiples for special occasions, when warriors would wear a kina shell pectoral necklace serving as the focal point of their dress.
Traditionally, the message conveyed by a piece of jewelery was public knowledge, with the specificity of meaning understood by the community. At times these body ornaments were worn as indicators of wealth, and would be temporarily displayed on the owner or his wife's body. This might be accompanied by the wearing of kina pearl shells set in red ochre and resin plaques, found among the Melpa people of the Western Highlands of New Guinea.
In 1965, the missionaries reported that these breast ornaments were said to be worth three months' wages, and 20 shells would amount to a reasonable bride price.

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