- Registration number
- Item name
- Indigenous name
- Biru (Kwaio language)
- Associated cultural group
- Pacific > Solomon Islands > Malaita Province > Malaita Island
- Mr William Effey
- Acquisition date
- April 22, 1950
- Acquisition method
- Donated by Mr William Stephens
- Raw material
- Teeth, dolphin; beads, glass; shell, turtle; string, plant fibre
- H: 40 mm W: 930 mm L: D: 15 mm Circum:
Rectangular headband with porpoise teeth vertically woven into plant fibre string; turtle shell spacer; red, white, blue and black glass beads; two plaited strings of plant fibre extend from each end. Registration number 4445 marked with tag.
From the UQ Anthropology Museum exhibition ‘Solomon Islands: Re-enchantment and the Colonial Shadow’, a scholarly project curated by Diana Young in collaboration with research consultants Graham Baines, Annie Ross, Clive Moore and David Akin, August 2016 – June 2017.
Headband of bright red shell and around 400-500 beru porpoise teeth; worn either on neck or forehead, occasionally both; worn by both men and women. Possibly from Kwaio but could be from anywhere in Malaita.
Indigenous name, materials, and place attributed by David Akin and Clive Moore.
Headbands like these were used for body ornamentation but also as units of currency in Malaita; some bands having 1000 teeth and were very valuable. People could tell how many teeth were used in a beru and so they were used like $50 and $100 notes. The position of the porpoise teeth have been thought to be indicative of whether the band was ancestral or from killings [D Akins 2013, pers. Comm., 5 September].
The headbands are also made with possum teeth, but the teeth in this headband are believed to be dolphin because of their curved shape. The plant fibre string is made with the very fine fibres of a vine. On Santa Isabel the outer green layer of the vine is carefully cut and pulled off revealing the fine hair-like fibres, which are collected and dried before making string. Women twine this fibre by either rubbing it between the fingers or up and down the thigh. If you want the pieces twined tighter together, you would roll the fibre up the thigh twice before rolling it back down [E Baines, pers. comm. 09/10/2012].