• $395.00
    Unit price per 
  • Save $505

Unique, hand-carved Trobriand ceremonial Serving Dish in the shape of a tropical fish with shell eye and created out of 1 piece of rosewood.

From Massim region, Melanesia South Pacific.

One-of-a-kind art

 ITEM 2A40A in our inventory

Unique hand carved Trobriand Serving Dish in the shape of a tropical fish with shell eye.

VERY LARGE SIZE:  22" X8" X 3" high


This is a beautiful completely hand carved hand crafted Melanesian (remote Massim region)  Bowl seen on photo 1 and following photos and with delicate time consuming hand incised motifs on rim and tail from the isolated Kula trade islands, beautifully carved by a local master carver with rudimentary tools

Rare Melanesian art

Entirely handcrafted 

This is a traditional Pacific art sago and grub bowl created by hand with rudimentary tools in the remote Trobriand Islands, North of Papua New Guinea

All hand carved out of local tropical wood 

Terrific value for a very rare art creation

 Amazingly beautiful considering the basic tools used on the premises such as pieces of broken shells, rusted nails from shipwrecks found on the beaches, and sea ray, shark skins or an animal horn or tusk rubbed for days against the surface till all is smooth, among other sanding tools which will produce a rich sheen on the wood.

These bowls are used to serve sago, grub worm and other foods during initiations and ceremonies.

. We show pictures of people and yam houses we took when we go there.

In perfect condition and a great value at that price. It is very hard to come across such collectibles unless you go there.

These beautiful receptacles are rare items of the Kula ring. We collected them while in the Trobriands which are north of  Papua New Guinea, next to New Ireland. We collected many beautiful pieces while in the Trobriands from carvings to costumes, drums and Kula ring exchange items that we will list whenever we have time.

In these islands which are rarely visited, outside influence is at a minimum. The extremely skilled carvers inspire themselves from what is around them as they have access to nothing else: the natives, birds, fish, pigs, marine turtles, snakes and whatever they see in their dreams such as dragons or mystical figures.

Some of these items have very important meanings as they are used as part of the Kula ring trade system that has existed between the islands for centuries.

The Kula ring is a system of exchange involving annual inter-island visits between trading partners who exchange highly valued shell ornaments and other things during year long sea travels.

In his Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), Malinowski analyzed the kula ring, the exchange of shell valuables in a circle around the chain of the . These ornaments were traded from island to island in a counter-clockwise direction:

A long time ago when the days were longer and the nights shorter lived a hero called Tava who at times took the form of a snake. Tava was known to pass between the villages that are identified as the active . When he was present in a village the people were said to have good fortune and prosper. His location was known only to one woman in each village and she would feed and tend to him. If he felt mistreated or betrayed at any time he would move on to the next island. On his departing the good fortune would also depart with him. He would nevertheless leave each village with a trade. 

This trade ranged from a surplus of pigs and yams in the Trobriands to the fine art or pottery found in the Amphletts. Other places became known for obsidian and Betel nut. It is believed that this myth could be one of the origins of the and the way it functions. Kula is a ritualized trading culture existing in eastern which the Trobriands are part of. It is essentially network of villages joined by a common trade route, known as the . By analogy, Kula allows you to experience the magic and legends of . Kula was and still is a life sustaining cultural exchange. It is unfortunate that much of the time and energy that was used in the past to hold together the social foundation is now being clouded with the desire for money, a by-product of a tourism-based economy. With influences such as these and the advancement of technology, the intricate pattern in which traditional values are based is slowly eroding. Kula is the basis of mental and physical well-being. The has always been associated with making contact with far off neighbors. Traditionally two kinds of items were traded; arm bands carved from the sea shell known as Mwali and spondylus shell necklaces, Soulava. Each of these items was traded individually. Mwali and Soulava traveled in opposite directions around the (group of islands). Mwali passed anticlockwise in the ring and were given with the right hand, the Soulava passed clockwise and was offered with the left hand, first between villages then from island to island.

Such pieces are used by the indigenous people of the most primitive areas of Papua New Guinea.  These proud people have managed, in the face of continued government and missionary pressure, to maintain a culture of incredible depth and beauty. For the most part, they still live by the same methods as have existed in their remote land for thousands of years.

Check Dominique Rice Oceania Store in Sun Sentinel Newspaper, Fort Lauderdale, for information on our collection and authentic art.


 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.