Chest or forehead ornament (kapkap)

From Malaita, Solomon Islands, Melanesia
Possibly 19th or early 20th century AD

Ornaments of this type are popularly known as kapkap. They are chest or forehead ornaments consisting of a disc of white shell (giant clam - tridacna) overlaid with an openwork disc of turtle-shell, usually secured with vegetable fibre thread. The discs are often attached to plaited fibre head-bands. The turtle-shell overlay is skilfully carved with geometric designs. These designs vary in style from island to island, but the basic arrangement of concentric bands is consistent. This example has a central motif of a six-pointed star. Some examples incorporate human or animal figures. The turtle-shell inlay of the kapkap ornaments made in the outlying Santa Cruz Islands is often made in the form of a stylized frigate bird.

Solomon Islanders also use shell for making a number of other personal ornaments, including disc-shaped neck pendants of clam shell with incised designs infilled with pigment; pearl-shell pendants; armlets cut from a single piece of shell; nose ornaments inserted into the septum and necklaces and belts threaded with tiny shell beads. Solomon Islanders also use shell for making a number of other personal ornaments, including disc-shaped neck pendants of clam shell with incised designs infilled with pigment; pearl-shell pendants; armlets cut from a single piece of shell; nose ornaments inserted into the septum and necklaces and belts threaded with tiny shell beads.

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More information

Bibliography

D.B. Waite, 'Art and Ethnographica from the Solomon Islands in the Museum of Mankind' in Captain Cook and the South Pac, British Museum Yearbook no. 3 (London, The British Museum Press, 1979), pp. 199-239

D.B. Waite, Art of the Solomon Islands fro (Geneva, Musée Barbier-Müller, 1983)

Dimensions

Diameter: 13.200 cm

Museum number

AOA 1944.Oc2.1341

EOC20306

Collected by Harry G. Beasley
Previously in the Blackmore Museum
Gift of Mrs H.G. Beasley

Location

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