Kapkap (SO015)

Description of item:




































Turtle and tridacna (Tridacna gigas) shells, vegetable fibres, glass beads; excellent and unique gallery display, kapkap type ornament of pierced turtle shell mounted on a shell disk, containing geometric motifs. 1960’s.


Diameter: 13.5 cm (5.3 inches)


Kapkap is the Papua New Guinea name of this type of pendant or ornament, taken from a New Ireland language, for shell-disk ornaments with a pierced turtle shell overlay. In the Solomon Islands these adornments are better known by the Marovo word dala. Kapkaps were produced by communities in Papua New Guinea, the Admiralty Islands, New Ireland and Bougainville, through to Santa Cruz Islands. These giant clamshell ornaments were made and prized by many Melanesian peoples, but it reached its apogee in the Solomon Islands. Kapkaps were the most valuable ornaments and formed the property of important people, taking into consideration the enormous time and effort involved in their production. They were worn on the forehead, less often suspended around the neck.


Kjellgren, E. ‘Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’, (2007: 111, 173).

​Howarth, C. with Waite, D. ‘Varilaku, Pacific Arts from the Solomon Islands’, (2011: 75).


Private Australian collection.



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