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Artifact Number:

Feather money


 70 x 37 x 6 cm

 Santa Cruz, Melanesia

 Feather money with shell attachments, coiled into two sections. (From previous exhibit label) - Feather money coils, part of a complex exchange system, were used to purchase labor, fine pigs, and as bride price. Until recently ten coils of increasing fineness and value were needed to obtain a wife in traditional marriage rites. Money coils, made only by specialists, contained red feathers plucked from the rainforest honey eater, 'Myzomela cardinalis'. Feathers from 300 to 1,000 birds were glued with paper mulberry tree sap onto small platelets of ordinary pigeon feathers. About 1,500 platelets were then wrapped onto two foundation cords about 30 feet long. The bands were decorated with Job's tear tassels and shells, coiled onto bark rings, and wrapped in leaves for storage about the household fireplace, discouraging vermin and mildew. It took 500 hours of labor to make one coil. Acquired by Admiral James P. Walker, USN, in 1943 while serving in the South Pacific during World War II; later given to donor by Admiral Walker.

Collection Name

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