This a beaded widow’s belt, an item made and worn only by widows to mark their new status ( their manufacture probably marked the end of the mourning period). The tribes of the Admiralties coast and its offshore islands were accomplished bead workers and once produced intricate beaded aprons, belts and other adornments. These were traditionally made using beads made of tiny shell disks in natural red, white and black . From the beginning of the 20th century, trade beads were incorporated into these designs, since they supplied new colours and were a status symbol. Today nobody makes the tiny shell beads by hand as they are so much work and any beadwork produced in the past 50 years will be in glass trade beads, with traditional patterns.
The belt has the maker and owner’s name “Tresia Tatah” beaded at the centre with the ends beaded in extremely delicate and complex tribal patterns. A superb piece of beadwork from a culture in which examples of this quality are now rare. Length 66 cm / 26 inches