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Arts of the Pacific Islands

Throughout northern Vanuatu, an island nation in the Southwest Pacific, men gain political power by participating in a series of complex economic tests. Each achieved social rank grants a man the right to wear specific insignia or ornaments. This armband would have been worn on the upper left arm to signify a particular economic accomplishment and to mark the man as someone of high status.

Starting in the mid-nineteenth century, ni-Vanuatu artists began replacing white and brown beads made from shell and coconut wood with more colorful European glass beads.
CULTURE ni-Vanuatu
MEDIUM Glass beads, fiber
  • Place Made: Vanuatu
  • DATES mid 19th–mid 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 3 3/8 × 3 15/16 × 4 5/16 in. (8.5 × 10 × 11 cm)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 64.248.51
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Ingeborg de Beausacq
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Armband of woven fiber cord decorated allover with glass beads in geometric patterns.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
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