Summary

Pearl shells from Broome and the Kimberleys are classically incised with zigzag and linear patterns thought to represent the shadows of storm clouds and lightning cast on the ground. The dots between the lines are droplets of rain. These pearl shells are traded over huge distances across the continent and those that find their way to central Australia are used in rain-making ceremonies. The anthropologist Charles P. Mountford recorded a ritual conducted by the Pitjantjatjara people in which such shells were used successfully to produce rain. These highly prized objects of trade were found as far afield as Port Augusta in South Australia.

Physical Description

An ovoid shaped pearl shell pendant with a hole drilled at the top. A thick length of human hair string is secured through the hole. The inner surface is incised with concentric geometric zig zag patterning infilled with red ochre. The outer surface is scraped and polished.

Local Name

Riji

More Information