Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB

Feather Currency (Tevau)

Between five and six hundred hours of work by three different hereditary specialists usually went into the making of a coil of Santa Cruz feather currency. One man gathered the feathers, a second made plaques by gluing together feathers from gray Pacific pigeons and then attaching red feathers from the scarlet honeyeater (Myzomela cardinalis) to them, and then the third specialist assembled the plaques together into a coil. This currency was only used for large, important purchases: for canoes and pigs and for payments to a young woman’s family by her husband-to-be. Coils with intact feathers still vividly red were considered the most valuable.

Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands
Feather Currency (Tevau)
Feathers, fiber, bark, shell, beads
Diam. 19 5/8 in. (49.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 80.42