Whale tooth pendant (Tambua) ; Pre 1925; 74/22/1
Whale tooth pendant (Tambua)
Tambua made of whale tooth ivory. It has a hole drilled in each end. Sennit cord attached to the distal end of the tooth.
Pre 1925Place Made
Whale tooth, sennit cord
170 mm long , 550 mm diameter
According to the Money Museum in Zurich, Switzerland "Tambua, the tooth of the sperm whale, is the most valuable medium of exchange on Fiji. Tambua are used for important transactions, for instance to pay the bride price. Besides, whale teeth are valuable gifts for births, deaths, weddings, or other festivities.
For an old, polished, well-colored red-ivory tooth one can buy a canoe, while a small white tooth will only buy some fishes. In this way whale teeth gained monetary character in the course of time. But they were always used as valuable gifts as well: When Queen Elizabeth visited Fiji in the 1950s, the president of the island presented her with a whale tooth. To be offered a tambua is a great honor in Fiji.
The older and bigger the teeth are, the higher their value. Sperm whales have 25 to 50 teeth in their lower jaw; big teeth have a length of about 20 centimeters (7.85 inches) and can weigh up to 1 kilogram (35.3 ounces). The older the teeth are, the redder they get. Our specimen has a length of 18 centimeters (7 inches), a weight of 480 grams (16.9 ounces), and is of slightly reddish color." from The Money Museum website http://www.moneymuseum.com/moneymuseum/coins/coin.jsp?lang=en&id=87514
Collection of Te Manawa Museums TrustCredit Line
Donated by Mr J Brydon Speedy
This object is from
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