20th century, 1950–2000
Artist unknown, Pacific Islander, Artist Unidentified, Pacific Islander

Object Place: Sepik River, Papua New Guinea


Overall: 33 x 16.5 x 2 cm (13 x 6 1/2 x 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Melo shell, tortoiseshell, braided fiber

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art, Jewelry


Necklaces and neck bands

Only recently did collectors develop an interest in personal adornments from Papua New Guinea. Such adornments reflect the variety of materials used by artists of the Sepik River area. Organic materials found locally or exchanged via trade are worked and arranged in dramatic juxtapositions. In Melanesia, men wear kapkap-concave shells with openwork tortoiseshell decoration-as breast ornaments, on the forehead, or, most commonly in the Sepik area, in the hair mounted on a pin. Here the kapkap has been mounted as a necklace.


1967, acquired in Angoram, Papua New Guinea by Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart