Fofona pectoral ornament

Ref : PNG 064

Fofona pectoral ornament
These ornaments are known as Siripiya or Fofona . They are woven by women and given to young men after their initiation, they are also held in the teeth as battle ornaments by the Big Men. Worn on the chest or sometimes the back, fofona are an essential part of ceremonial decoration . It is also worn in marriage transactions and serves as bride price. What also made these items valuable as bride price were the white cowrie shells which were valuable currency which had been traded up from the coast via the barter system, between a number of tribal groups before they finally made there way to the Highlands. Tribal groups in PNG are very territorial and you could not simply leave your village and head to the coast, so the barter system was the way of introducing these mysterious and precious items to the community. This item is woven with hand made string and colored with natural pigments it is fringed with nassa shells there is some old wire running between the two shells. Collected in the Eastern Highlands in the 60’s In excellent condition for its age with only some minor shell work missing and possibly a small piece of weaving bottom right although there appears to be no break.

Length : 14 inches/36cm
Width : 13 inches/33cm

Estimated age : 1940