Kina by bobfoto

Kina

In Papua New Guinea, if you have the right money you can buy yourself a bride. Brides are not cheap and it depends on what clan you belong to in PNG will determine how much, and when you purchase your bride. The Kina shell is a traditional unit of currency and today, Kina is exchanged along with pigs, feathers, cold hard cash, flour, rice and the ubiquitous betel nut.

The modern PNG government decided that their unit of currency would also be called the Kina.

In this image we see 3 forms of traditional Kina currency and these items would still be used today to purchase brides and of course other items. In some parts of PNG, New Britain in particular, these Kina shells are still used as currency. I could take these into a Bank in Rabaul and they would exchange them to me for cash, depending on the Kina-Kina exchange rate.

The long necklace on the left is from the Solomon Islands and I purchased this from a market in Port Moresby. I often wore this item, and everywhere I went, many many women would ask me about it. It was a rare item on mainland PNG and was very valuable due to its uniqueness.

The circular strand of Kina shells on the top of the photo I purchased at the base of a steaming active Volcano called Tavuvur at a village called Matupit and there, the blonde haired children were selling trinkets. I spotted this and tried to get second-price but the young girl knew her Kina-Kina exchange rate and would not barter at all. I paid a fair price and was told later that she was spot on. This piece is one long strand and is wound up and bound to make this circular object. The "hook" in the top is so that many of these could be hung together and counted when exchanged for a bride. I needed hundreds of these for a wife!

The bottom piece is pure Kina shell, and is worn around the neck. It was never my intent to own one of these pieces as they are extremely valuable in certain parts of PNG and are getting harder to come by. On my last night in PNG, a wonderful Motuan woman gave this to me as a farewell gift. I tried to refuse, but she said she really wanted me to have this to say thanks from her Motuan community. I honestly thought Australian Customs Officers would not allow it into country but I declared it and they said it was fine. Phew.

So for the theme this week, I offer not a pile of paper or polymer notes or even jingly coins, but here is some traditional currency from our Melanesian neighbours. Not enough for a bride, but enough for some wonderful memories.
Excellent item to introduce in the money theme! Wow, it is beautiful and really expresses the trading roots that money began as. Well done!
August 20th, 2011  
Jason, this is so interesting! Your composition is perfect for these lovely treasures. Thank you for sharing! :0)
August 20th, 2011  
@httpgeffed - thanks Colleen, I thought the theme needed some traditional bling!

@cjwhite - thank you Carolyn, there were other forms of bride-price Kina shells which were very rare and expensive and I decided that it wasn't my right to take them out of the country. I saw a young German man buying up big and was talking about using them for purchasing a local national girl. Hmmmm? But at the end of the day, it sometimes doesn't matter how much bride-price you show up with, some families won't part with their daughters.
August 20th, 2011  
What an interesting story! I learned so much and am shocked you can still exchange this for "real money." Great photo and story for money theme.
August 20th, 2011  
Great composition. I liked your story to go along with your shot. I didn't think that brides were still being bought for Kina. I learn new things every day.
August 20th, 2011  
Great photo, Jason....and the history to go with it. Very interesting....a fav!
August 20th, 2011  
Wonderful! Very interesting.
August 20th, 2011  
Wonderful story, so interesting.
August 20th, 2011  
What an interesting story, and what a wonderful parting gift you were given. Beautifully represented here as well. Definitely not your average theme shot!
August 20th, 2011  
@espyetta - In places like Rabaul, there is a real exchange rate on these items and the people who sell them know what the price is at the bank. I'm happy to say I wasn't ripped off at all. The young girl who sold this to me was very honest.

Here is a photo of the young girl who sold me the Kina money.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pomfotos/2384270813/

@daisy - The commission that I saw being paid for bride price at today's modern ceremonies were made up of cash and then the pigs, shells, food, flour, rice, and betel nut. Plus some beer to keep the father of the bride happy.

@mjmaven - thanks mjm :)

@mandyj92 @zferrie @aj1268 - thank you ladies :)
August 20th, 2011  
Fascinating and beautiful. Love your story and adventure. You made a positive impression!
August 20th, 2011  
@annamaker - Thank you Anna Mae :)
August 20th, 2011  
A cool pic for the theme and the information is fascinating so thank you :)
August 20th, 2011  
@juanita - your welcome Juanita, thank you for popping by and taking a look!
August 20th, 2011  
Very interesting out here the cowry shells were used as curency but that has long since changed to notes and coin
August 20th, 2011  
What a wonderful story, and fascinating facts! I love love love this for the theme.
August 20th, 2011  
@steeler - yeah they have the notes and coins... but traditions run deep.

@mimma_blue - thank you Miss Blue :)
August 20th, 2011  
Thanks for this - very interesting indeed.
August 20th, 2011  
Great shot for the theme.
August 20th, 2011  
so interesting. fav'd, went to look at the photo of the girl, got lost in your other photos! they are soooo interesting - thank you for sharing such great info, really enjoyed learning about this.
August 20th, 2011  
Love the story to this. It's a fantastic shot for the theme.
August 20th, 2011  
So interesting Jason.. Thank you for sharing
August 20th, 2011  
@catsmeowb - I'm glad you enjoyed the pics Camille :)

@corymbia @girlie @bella_ss @michelleyoung - Thank you ladies, hopefully the Magic Monkeys like the theme shot too?
August 20th, 2011  
Cool shot & interesting info!
August 21st, 2011  
@katrinacristy - Thank you Katrina! :)
August 21st, 2011  
Great back story. Fabulous shot.
August 21st, 2011  
@lmasinton - Thanks Lael :)
August 22nd, 2011  
Sil
Such fascinating story! Thank you for the education. Those are pretty shells, I'm sure you could charm any girl in the world with them and the right explanation :)
August 25th, 2011  
@silvina - I think you are right Sil. That's a sweet way of thinking... thanks. :)
August 26th, 2011  
It's so strange that a country not far from us is so incredibly different! Love the story and these pieces are so interesting!
October 13th, 2011  
@amz87 - indeed Ms Moon, the gulf between us is not merely the Coral Sea, but we take so much for granted which is purely a luxury or even a impossibility for many PNGeans!
October 13th, 2011  
OMG - you are rich! - in so many ways lol - I have a feeling that a 'brideprice' is still paid in many modern societies (often after the ceremony) but without the honesty of this system.
August 11th, 2013  
@kittikat - I think you're right.
August 11th, 2013  
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