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About the object

Feather money coils consist of several tens of thousands of feathers glued together like roof tiles. The coils were used as a bride price in the case of marriages, everyday transactions, or for the acquisition of specific goods, such as boats. The coils were not only considered to be currency by the residents of the Santa Cruz Islands, but also the neighbouring groups of the offshore reef islands. Each one of the two coils stacked on top of one another consists of tens of thousands of feathers from the scarlet honeyeater; the palm leaves act as packaging. Feather money is produced exclusively on the small island of Ndende in the southern Solomon Islands. Three specialists are responsible for the various operations: catching the bird and gathering the feathers, applying the feathers to platelets, binding the platelets and assembling the coil. All in all, it took around 700 hours to make a coil. The value of the money is measured primarily by the brightness of the feathers and the overall condition of the coil. Since the beginning of the 20th century, with the introduction of Western currencies in the Pacific, feather money, like other domestic forms of money, has been used in parallel with coins and banknotes, especially for ritual payments, such as a bride price or the purchase of a boat. The production of feather money fell into disuse during the 1970s.

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