red and white shell beads on necklace with tortoise shell accents; large crescent shell pendant with cutout tortoise shell bird

Necklace with Half-Moon Pendant, 20th century

Unknown artist, expand_more
Not on Viewexpand_more

This shell pendant is a beautiful example of the unique blend of both Polynesian and Melanesian cultural elements found in the Santa Cruz Islands. The ornament is made of golden-lipped pearlshell, a rare material available only through trade with neighboring islands. The object's form also reflects outside cultural influences. Most pendants worn in the Solomon Islands are round, but use of the crescent shape originated in central Polynesia, and spread to the Santa Cruz Islands through trade with Polynesian whaling crews in the early 19th century. The tortoiseshell ornament on the front of the pendant represents a frigate bird, a sacred animal. These birds were honored for their skills at fishing, and were seen as powerful hunters; attributes admired by men from this area. Body ornaments such as this one were highly valued. Each household had a collection of them, much of it handed down, which made up a significant portion of that family's wealth. Most of these prestigious items were worn by men, generally on ceremonial occasions.

Details
Title
Necklace with Half-Moon Pendant
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2001.130.2
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

In consideration of the health and safety of visitors, volunteers, and staff, Mia is temporarily closed to the public. Learn more here.

red and white shell beads on necklace with tortoise shell accents; large crescent shell pendant with cutout tortoise shell bird