- Museum number
Armlet, known as mwali, made from a carved and polished conus shell. Two lengths of red, white and blue glass beads hang from black banana seeds that are attached to the armlet with vegetable fibre.
- Production date
Diameter: 8.50 centimetres
Length: 25 centimetres (strings of beads)
- Curator's comments
- This type of armlet is known as mwali and is part of the complex kula exchange in the Trobriand Islands. In a long standing tradition, men trade shell valuables such as necklaces and armlets along specific pathways.
The reputation of each trader is determined and sustained through this network. A man’s status in his community is maintained through this exchange system.
This collection (2012,2037) was collected by Dr Bronislaw Malinowski during his expeditions to the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea, 1915-16 and 1917-18.
This collection complements the existing British Museum Malinowski collection of almost 700 objects from the Trobriand Islands.
Trobriand Islands material first came to the Museum in the 1880's when several artefacts were acquired from Whitten, in 1893 and 1895.
Professor Charles Gabriel Seligman visited the Trobriand Islands with Major W. Cooke-Daniels during the Ethnographical Expedition to British New Guinea 1903-04. A large collection of objects from this expedition was donated to the Museum in 1906.
In 1950 the Museum acquired objects collected from the Trobriand Islands during the early 1920's by the artist Ellis Silas (Oc,1950,02.1-154).
The pictorial archive includes his drawings of Trobriand Islanders (Oc2006,Drgs.506-680). A second smaller collection of his photographs, including some taken in the Trobriand Islands (Oc,F.N.2992-Oc,F.N.3010) was acquired in 1987.
For more information see:
Malinowski, B. 1922. Argonauts of the Western Pacific. London: George Routledge & Sons
Malinowski, B. 1929. The sexual life of savages: In North-Western Melanesia. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Previously part of the LSE ethnography collection, brought in to the British Museum on deposit in 2001. Formally donated to the Museum in October 2013 by the London School of Economics (LSE).
Malinowski offered to sell the British Museum a large collection in 1921. The Museum paid £150 (from The Christy Fund) for the objects they wanted. 672 objects were accessioned in 1922, under the collection M for Malinowski. The remaining objects stayed at the British Museum until 1936, when Malinowski was asked to take them away. These artefacts ended up in the Robert Lowie Museum, Berkeley, USA.
This is a collection (2012,2037) of objects that remained in the London School of Economics.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Other BM number: 43 (previous number)