Man’s Pectoral, Fofona, Bena Bena, Eastern Highlands, PNG, Mid-20th Century

mid-20th Century
nassa shells, egg cowrie shells, fibre
35 x 36 cm
$750 with stand

Fofona are insignia of male initiation, worn among the Bena Bena and Kamno groups. They are generally worn on the chest, but occasionally also as a back decoration. These pectorals are presented to young men after undergoing a painful initiation ceremony involving the piercing of the urethra. They are worn in ceremony, and in years past were worn in warfare. Because of the value of the shells, they are an established part of regional currency, used in bride price and compensation payments.

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