Shell ornament (kapkap)


About this object

Both men and women in Oceania wear the high-status chest ornaments known generally as ‘kapkap’. People also trade them within and between islands. This type of 'kapkap' from Santa Cruz has a distinctive ladder-like design in turtle shell which extends from the centre of the white shell disk to the top. The motif at the bottom may be a stylised frigate bird; the ones above it, fish such as the bonito. On Santa Cruz, male dancers wore them during important ceremonies and in battle.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Personal Ornament
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Oceania: Melanesia: Solomon Islands: Santa Cruz Islands
  • Date made
    19th Century
  • Materials
    Clam Tridacna; Fibre Plant; Turtle Shell; Metal
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, World Cultures
  • Acquisition
    Purchased from Norwich Castle Museum, 1956
  • Collector
    Mrs Preedy
  • Place collected
    Not recorded
  • Date collected
    1925 before
  • Measurements
    149 mm x 149 mm x 3 mm; 5 7/8 in x 5 7/8 in x 1/8 in
  • Note
    A round, white, shell disk with a piece of turtleshell attached from the centre to the top by fibre cords along its length. The turtleshell is cut into stylised motifs in a ladder-like design. The white tridacna shell disk has been broken and mended with metal rivets.
  • Related people
    Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery ( Previous owner); Mrs Preedy ( Collector, previous owner)


Previous owners

  • Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

    Owned from: 1925
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1956
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Mrs Preedy

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1925
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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