A fine 1950s or 1960s example, stained red for festive use, with a wide hand looped string neckband.Length of shell 20 cm/ 8 inches, width 18 cm/7 inches,
The kina is the traditional shell valuable that lends its name to the modern PNG currency. It is cut in a crescent shape and worn as a pectoral.
In the1930s, kina shells were so rare and valuable that the early white explorers could finance and feed a party of 80 – 100 bearers and police for weeks simply by carrying in a sack or two of waste oyster shell from the pearlers in Torres Straits. It also led to its own special magic, a wooden kina called a “somp”. The somp had a tiny fragment of oyster shell glued onto it, and was meant to attract a full size kina by magic.
Most Highlands kina are stained red with cheap watercolor powder paint, which is regarded as a precious luxury and purchased at trade stores by the spoonful!