An Engraved Pearl Shell, Western Australia, Riji, Jakoli incised pearl shell, red natural earth pigment, human hair string, cotton fibre Length: 16cm (6 5/16 in). (shell), 50cm (19 11/6in). (overall)
PROVENANCE: Executed in the Kimberley region, Western Australia in the 1950s Private collection
Cf. For a similar example in the collection of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart see Kim Akerman, From Boab Nuts to Ilma: Kimberley Art and Material Culture'; Judith Ryan and Kim Akerman (eds.), Images of Power: Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1993, pp.108-109.
Pearl shells from the Kimberley region have played numerous roles in Aboriginal culture. The pendants with hair string were worn to influence the onset of rain, as a symbol of strength and good health and in a ritual context by initiates.