Arm ornament

Photography Carl Warner

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 Dr L. P. Winterbotham 
Raw material
Shell, glass beads, seed pods, palm fronds, string
H: W: 110 mm L: 730 mm D: Circum:


Elaborate kula arm ornament - wide armband of shell with strings of coloured glass beads (mostly red), seed pods and shells attached at two points. One string of beads, pods and shells is quite long and is fringed with long palm fronds.

Length: approx 73cm (armband to end of palm fronds)
Width: approx 11cm (armband) and approx 18cm (palm fronds)

Research notes

From the UQ Anthropology Museum exhibition 'In the Red; on the vibrancy of things' June 2012 - January 2013.

The Kula is a ceremonial exchange system conducted within the Milne Bay province of Papua New Guinea. Part of the traditional Kula ceremony, shell arm bands travelled anti-clockwise and necklaces in a clockwise direction between the islands. A basic rule was that arm bands could not be kept indefinitely nor withdrawn from circulation unless it was personally owned. The shell arm bands were often too small to wear and larger ones only worn during important ceremonies and thus, were usually left suspended from braided rope or horizontal poles. Trade beads, seeds and shell enhanced their sound and presence.

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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