This is a Beautiful Woven Body Ornament known as a Fofona from the Benabena Tribal People of the Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea. This Fofona is a plant dyed woven bush fiber with sewn nassa shells and two large cowrie shells by women and given to young men after their initiation, they are also held in the teeth as battle ornaments by the Big Men. Worn on the chest or sometimes the back, the fofona is an essential part of ceremonial decoration. It is also worn in marriage transactions and serves as bride price. What made these items valuable as bride price were the white cowrie shells which were valuable currency which had been traded up from the coast via the barter system, between a number of tribal groups before they finally made there way to the Highlands. Tribal groups in Papua New Guinea are very territorial and you could not simply leave your village and head to the coast, so the barter system was the way of introducing these mysterious and precious items to the community. This item is woven with handmade string and colored with natural pigments. it is decorated with Nassa shells, and the two large Cowrie shells are sewn on each side. This unique men's chest or back ornament was made out of an old leather shoe. This item would be a wonderful addition to your collection.
COMES ON STAND
Shows aging, fraying and has native repairs on the back, fraying and loss of shells in middle panel and front right panel, but overall it is in good condition.
Shell Ornament on Stand
10 1/2" wide with Shells
3 1/2" - 2 1/2" long
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