Australian Aboriginal Pearl Shell Lonkalonka, Kimberley Region, Aboriginal Art, Oceanic Art, Tribal Personal Decoration, Rain Magic
The engraved pear shell ornaments from the Kimberly area of northwest Australia were prized objects of trade, personal decoration and ritual. The shimmering quality of the shell was thought to mimic that of water and these lonkalonka were suspended outside to attract rain. I have a number of these over the years but none with such a full batch of human hair rope intact. This example has a classic interlocking key design infilled with red ochre and a tuft of lighter fiber between the shell and the dark brown human hair rope. Collected by Peter Worsley between 1966 -68 when he was the officer in charge of the native welfare department in Marble Bar, northwestern Australia. The piece dates to the early 20th century, is 19 1/8” or 48.7 cm tall as mounted (the shell itself is 6 ¼”, 15.9 cm in height). The piece sells for $4500. Questions?