sekere (Money)

About this object

History of use

Pearl shell is the important denomination of wealth and is used as medium of exchange in bride-wealth, warfare compensation, death payments, dispute settlement, etc. Fundamental to reciprocal exchange, such objects move along paths defined by alliance and filiation. The shell is usually worked by other groups, who trade the shell in a more or less finished state, but the Kewa also know these techniques.

Cultural context

exchange

Physical description

A piece of pearl shell that is crescent shaped and that has 8 cm. between the points where there is a hole bored. The convex side is pearly-yellow while the concave side is pearly-white. Irregularly coated and encrusted with red ochre. Attached to the holes, there is a band knitted of local fibre, 60 cm. long, and 5 cm. wide. To one end, there is attached a cord 5 cm. long. The other attachment has been broken and is affixed to the shell with nylon string. The band is coated with red ochre. To each end, there are affixed two cowrie shells. At the midpoint, there are three transverse ribs. Near these, there is affixed a clump of fur.