Arm ornament

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Registration number
Item name
Arm ornament 
Indigenous name
Associated cultural group
Pacific > Papua New Guinea > Milne Bay Province > Kiriwina Goodenough District > Trobriand Islands
Acquisition date
January 01, 1950 
Acquisition method
Foundation Donation from Unrecorded 
H: 30 mm W: 70 mm L: 310 mm D: Circum:


This armlet is made from two pieces of cone shell and tied with string and plant fibre. At one of the joins red trade beads cluster together and then extend into two strands of red, blue, white and green beads, each ending with a black seed and palm leaf.

Research notes

Mwali and soulava are armbands and necklaces that are exchanged between partners of individuals, communities or clans throughout the Louisiade Archipelago of Milne Bay Province. The exchange route is known as the Kula Ring where mwali travel around the Archipelago anti-clockwise and soulava travel clockwise. Kula is more than a physical exchange of mwali and soulava. Over time, as they build up a history of exchange, the armbands and necklaces become symbols of the personal experiences and spiritual growth received by both partners. These experiences and histories of exchange held by mwali and soulava is what makes these items so valuable. The Kula exchange is a process that dates back over several hundred years and continues to create and build relationships today [ref. Malnic, J. with John Kasaipwalova, 1998. Kula: Myth and magic in the Trobriand Islands, Australia: Cowrie Books].

The Foundation Donation comprises the items from L. P. Winterbotham's personal collection, which were donated to the University of Queensland in 1948 and form the basis of the Anthropology Museum.

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