Sunday, September 9, 2007

Tambu Ceremony: Part 1

Recently I was honoured to attend a Tambu (shell-money) Breaking Ceremony which was held after the death of the uncle of a friend, who was a big man in Gelagela village outside Kokopo.

Tambu is still legal tender in the villages here and it is made from the Nassa Callosa and Nassa Camelus snail shells, which are found on the beaches of New Britain, New Ireland and the Solomon Islands .

In East New Britain the tops of the shells are broken off revealing a hole that is then threaded onto rattan in lengths called fathoms. This link gives more details and photos of how it is made.

Tomorrow I will show you what happened at the ceremony.


Tom said...

This is a great post Jules, I do like this mix of good pictures and information.

Ann (MobayDP) said...

I can't believe it's Sunday there already! :-)

I'm looking forward to seeing what happened at the Ceremony.

quintarantino said...

You are showing the world that Papua New Guinea is much more than a lost dire straits. Good job, Jules.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jules,
Your link expert threw me with tabu for a shell money known as tambu so I checked with my 1966 Pidgin English dictionary where it is referred to as tambu. G has always maintained that my previous boyfriend charged him bride price for me, no shell money exchanged but I went for $200 the amount I owed Adrian. I thought A could have given us a wedding present but he was obviously more p'd off than I realised. Do they have amore up-to-date dictionary published? Haven't been able to track one down here.
More tomorrow
Cheers Pia

Marie said...

This is very interesting, Jules. I like very much to hear about customs and other ways of living (I think I prefer those!)

dive said...

Tha looks like such a great party, Jules. I can't wait to find out what goes on in the ceremony.

Jules said...

Hi Pia I actually wrote tambu in my draft but when I found the article on the internet about tabu it threw me so i changed it. i have looked in ye old pidgin dictionary that i have all of 1943 and they say tambu which i thought it was!!!! So i have changed it!!! Bob Brown's Pidgin Guide is fantastic and so funny. it is published by South pacific Post - there are a series of them if you can find them
Guess who i ran into yesterday - Sir Rabbie -he remembered you and sent his best wishes - isn't that amazing I saw him so soon after you mentioned him!!!!
Have been down to rabaul today and the wind was blowing the ash all over and it was terrible. I took some photos for you and will put them on my other blog Rabaul Extra Photos - you can get to it if you click on My Profile - will try and get them on tonight.
My phone number at work is 675 9828770 so if you ring me there we can exchange numbers.

Anonymous said...

This is reminiscent of the money used by natives in the South Pacific during World War II. An American, sailor, in the construction force, called a "SeaBee" got one strand or string of money made from shells and brought it home with him. I don't know what islands he was on or what island he got this from but they were building an air field on the island that had been used by Japanese. It might even have been where you live.

Nice photography. And an interesting post to be sure.

lv2scpbk said...

Nice set of photos. I enjoy reading about the people.

Jilly said...

Look forward to tomorrow. So interesting. I particularly love the first photo.

Steve Buser said...

Jules, I'll be waiting to hear what happens. Interesting post.
--steve buser
New Orleans Daily Photo

Jules said...

Glad you enjoyed the post -it is something very special and i was so excited to be invited

Abraham - it sounds like it would have been something similar - could have been in the Solomons maybe???
This island was occcupied by the Japanese so not sure if they would have been able to build an airstrip here???

• Eliane • said...

The sun must be pretty brutal, with all those parasols out.

Neva said...

What a nice picture...very interesting!