Enquiry about object: 8546
Solomon Islands Large Pectoral Pendant (Tafi or Dafe)
Solomon Islands early 20th century
length: 20.7cm, weight: 190g
from the estate collection of a former London museum curator
– scroll down to see further images –
This superb, large, crescent-shaped chest pendant with pointed tips known as a tafi or dafe has been cut from pearl shell (probably the gold-lipped pear shell – Pinctada maxima).
It has been polished on one side only (as is typical of such pendants from the Solomon Islands) and drilled with two holes to allow suspension. It retains its original coconut fibre cord.
Such pendants primarily were worn by men.
The fashion for wearing such pendants probably was introduced to the Solomon Islands from elsewhere in Polynesia via regional trade routes.
Pendants of more restrained form such as the example here tend to be older.
Many such ornaments were made on Auki, a small island off the south-west coast of Malaita Island.
The example here is in a fine, wearable condition. The shell is lustrous and it has obvious age.
Grulke, W., Adorned by Nature: Adornment, Exchange & Myth in the South Seas, At One Communications, 2022.
Howarth, C., Varilaku: Pacific Arts from the Solomon Islands, National Gallery of Australia, 2011.
Hurst, N., Power and Prestige: The Arts of Island Melanesia and the Polynesian Outliers, Hurst Gallery, 1996.
Neich, R., & F. Pereira, Pacific Jewelry and Adornment, University of Hawai’i Press, 2004.
Waite, D. & K. Conru, Solomon Islands Art: The Conru Collection, 5 Continents, 2008.