These carvings signified power and were linked to head-hunting rituals. They were often lashed to the prow of war canoes (tomako), along with cowry shells and feathers. The triangular shape echoes the shape of the Tridacna Gigas clam shell, and the serrated edge symbolizes the undulating shell periphery.
Semi-fossilized giant clam shells, found high in the hills, were used to create these shapes. Small holes were drilled with a “pisu mongu” – a drill fitted with a bow and operated by hand. The holes are connected by sawing with a “riku”, which is the aerial root of a bush creeper called “asama”, coated with damp sand. Sharkskin strops were used to smooth the rough edges (a shark’s skin is covered with “dermal denticles”, plates that are shaped just like the shark’s teeth).
Reference – Abstract titled Barava: Land Title Deeds in Fossil Shell from the Western Solomon Islands by Rhys Richards and Kenneth Roga – Cultural Affairs Officer in Gizo, Solomon Islands
Publication – Tuhinga: Records of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa
Issue 15 2004
Pangosia measures 4"H x 5"W x .25"D
On Museum Style Stand - 6"H
Personally collected aboard Yacht Firebird Voyage
Acquired from the National Museum of Solomon Islands.