Museum Bride Price Currency, Rare Old Ceremonial Moka Kina Shell Necklace (Huge Mother of Pearl Crescent) Pectoral Collected from the Foi Tribe (New guinea), Mid 1900’s, Red Pigments & Twisted Bark Twine Cord, Highly Collectible. KINA7

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 Shells are Gold to the remote tribes of the highlands of Papua New Guinea, and Kina jewelry is the most important of all.

Beautiful Rare Authentic Old Tribal Kina Ceremonial Necklace, prized pectoral decoration from the Foi Tribe, highlands of Papua New Guinea. Possibly 70 years old or more.

Mount-Hagen area. ( mid 20th Century)

This Gold lip shell (Pinctada maximums) was carved in a ½ moon shape from a gigantic shell, also called the Kina (as the local money). Shell has uneven edges in places as expected from a shell.

One of the largest we ever found and very old.

Interesting, after breaking when it was removed from its resin tray, and because of its great value and size, it was fixed locally, primitively, with materials at hand and continued to be exchanged as its worth was still great to the natives. All the indentations around the neck, filled with ochre powder, show how many times it was used as currency.

Item KINA7

 (Papou Pygmy Tribe Body Art, also valuable currency used as money to this day)

This object of value from Papua New Guinea (PNG), an important Pectoral adornment considered currency in trade or exchanges, has passed from hand to hand, as a prize possession, many times over the past decades, as per the indentations points seen around the rim, which were made each time it was traded. There are quite a few, easily to see since they have been filled with natural ochre powered pigment. The shell crescent is still powdered with this reddish coloring, often used in decorating important pieces for special initiations, rites or sing sings. The huge and prized shell is very old and the handmade bark fiber hand twisted twine strap has been replaced over the years by newer ones since the humid weather would have caused each one to deteriorate eventually. Museum quality.

The shell itself is very valuable to the tribe and indicate power and wealth, an important possession, often used as currency.


When a kina is used as payment in a ceremony, it is often stained with bright red dyes as here: the front side is reddish colored. When the rear side of one of those pieces bears markings of clay and resin, it means that it was once presented on a tray and attached with resin as seen on some of my photos, being worn by sing-sing performers. It is even more valuable as a currency then and demands further respect.

At feasts or bride negotiations, together with other bride presents, a corresponding number of Kina Shells were presented on a tray.

The Kina Shells of the Foi tribe are reddish colored and are sometimes decorated with scratch and/or point decorations at the rims with a carrying suspension often inked brown or rust or brick red. Particular large and beautiful Kina Shells were often given their own name and kept in richly decorated bags. They were offered as gifts during ceremonies and feasts.

The Kina Shell is part of the shell of the Gold lip shell (Pinctada maximums) and was part of the traditional payment and medium of exchange in Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya. It is at the origin of the name given to the modern currency: "Kina", in Papua New Guinea.

These shells are still used in traditional ceremonial payments and currency to this day throughout Papua New Guinea. Traded from the coast into the highlands, Kina shells are used for bride price, blood feud paybacks, wealth displays and exchange festivals.

When the Leahy brothers came into the Highlands of Papua New Guinea searching for gold, they found people who valued the gold-lipped pearl shell as much as the miners valued gold. Shells are valuable all over New Guinea, but especially so in the Highlands where the traditional trading contacts between tribes slowly passed shells from ocean to mountain valleys. The mountain people had no concept of the sea, but they wanted the rare, glowing shells. After contact, at the time, the Leahy's and others flew in thousands of shells to pay their laborers.

Kinas, mother of pearl necklaces, are rare treasures from Papua, were worn either alone or in quantities and made of large mother of pearl moon shaped pieces (the gold-lipped pearl shell is cut into crescent shapes called kina) & decorated with fibers, brown pigments etc…

Warriors wear kina shells as displays of wealth and focus of their dress.

The polished, crescent-shaped shell with 2 drillings at each end is considered a true object of value. Some Kina Shells have a broad woven band, some have a simple cord with pulled up seed capsules, or just a simple carrying cord.

The Kina Shell was an object of value and an essential part of the bride price. The value is judged by the condition of the shell, the size and the color. Most valued were the reddish colored Kina Shells. They had the highest rank and price in the Mount Hagen area.

In the past, 8 Kina Shells were worth a fully-grown pig, for one shell one could get 1 small pig. The value of the Kina Shell surely varied from region to region. Until the 1960`s it had a fixed exchange rate of 12 shillings per pair

We carry many other artifacts we collect direct from the tribes, in East and West Papua and the Trobriands and remote islands of Indonesia.

All our collector and rare items come with pages and pages of research about provenance, and with history of the tribes and photos as well, depending on item and whenever possible. When shipping internationally, we group ship multiple purchases to save you money, and find the best rates available. If you have any questions or want to see research conducted on this piece and photos of tribes, tell us.