Image: Funerary plaque, Solomon Islands A8517

Funerary plaque, Solomon Islands A8517

Local name: venue, barava

Provenance: Vella Lavella Island, Western Province, Solomon Islands, Melanesia, Pacific

This fragment of openwork plaque was cut from a giant, semi-fossilised clam shell. Its function is uncertain, but it probably represented a land marker or deed of title to tribal land. Such plaques may have been hung in a canoe house or used to close the entrance of a model hut shrine containing the skull of a dead chief. They have also been found on graves. The imagery on the plaque possibly resembles human figures, faces and arm rings. The fragment was collected by Captain Haddock and sold to the Museum in 1880.

Description: White carved tridacna clam shell; slightly curved; five decorative rows of which two pairs are of similar design; three rows broken; each row separated by a plain band; the design of each row comprises six circles; edge of plaque damaged in several places.

Height: 2.5cm; Length: 31cm; Width: 17.5cm

Emma Furno
© Australian Museum

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