“Yua” Shell Barter Currency

Regular price $3,100.00
Sale price $3,100.00 Regular price
Product description


“Yua” - shell bride price / barter currency. Arapesh, Abelam, and Boiken peoples of the Sepik River region of the Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

These antique yua have been used for decades as barter currency. To create such great pieces of prestige, a two week trek from the highlands had to be made to coastal villages where goods were traded in order to acquire these shells.

Once the shells were in their possession - to create the yua - the shell was roughly knocked into shape. Then, bamboo which had been dried and twisted, was used like a saw along with water and sand for friction.

The center hole was drilled out by the sculptor sitting and holding the shell with his feet. A vertical piece of bamboo with handles attached and formed the drill which was twirled and twirled for months. The piece was then polished on hard stone and finished with sand.  

The finished product - or yua - would then be traded and used as a power object.

To this day, the yua is still used for major payments, always being the constant item of greatest value.

Made from a giant sea clam, “Tridacna Gigas,” and used as a bride price item and trade currency. 

Central Highlands, Sepik Province

Papua New Guinea

Circa 19th C

Mounted on a precision solid brass stand

Sizes/Dimensions: Height On Stand: 12.25” Specimen Diameter: 9.00” 

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