Solomon Islands, Possibly Malaita Island, Possibly Malaita province
Tridacna shell, fiber, pigment
H. 2 1/2 x W. 2 1/4 in. (6.4 x 5.7 cm)
Bequest of John B. Elliott, 1997
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
The Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific form a double chain, roughly 850 miles long, between New Britain and Vanuatu. The archipelago is remarkable for the richness of its decorative arts, which serve to adorn the human body and embellish ceremonial and utilitarian objects. Solomon Islanders are particularly remarkable for their sophisticated traditions of shell inlay, in which delicately carved sections of mother-of-pearl or white shell are inset into the surfaces of wood objects. Artists produce ornate jewelry and personal ornaments fashioned from shell, porpoise teeth, turtle shell, and other materials. They also create, or created, diverse forms of valuables and ceremonial objects from the hard marble-like shell of the giant clam. Although Western culture has had a considerable impact on the archipelago, many of these art forms continue to flourish today.
John B. Elliott, Princeton, NJ, until (d.) 1997; John B. Elliott Estate, until 1999
Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, 103, 174.
Kjellgren, Eric. How to Read Oceanic Art. How to Read 3. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014, pp. 60.