Art-Pacific home | Site map | Guide to artifacts > New Guinea artifacts > >BILAS > Tooth and Bone

Art-Pacific (Carolyn Leigh - Ron Perry): Guide to Artifacts

Tooth and Bone

buy traditional jewelry from and

[Goroka Show Princess: 29k]

Goroka Show Princess contestant wearing multiple dog tooth necklaces.

Dog teeth, flying fox teeth, crocodile teeth, porpoise teeth, pig's tusks and teeth, all are used for jewelry in New Guinea. Dog teeth were so valuable during the colonial period that the Germans manufactured porcelain dog teeth in Europe and imported them to New Guinea before WW1 for bartering. Strings of dog teeth are part of a family's wealth and are worn for special occasions.

[Flying fox teeth necklace: 16k]

Double strand necklace of flying fox teeth and trade store glass beads.

The flying fox (blakbokis or fruit bat) necklace is from the grass country between Wewak and the Sepik River. A gap is cut in the tree line along a ridge to make a shortcut for the bats as they return from their nightly fruit foraging. After a few nights, a net is hung between the trees to trap them. The bats are eaten and their delicate teeth are saved for necklaces and strung with alternating trade store beads for color.

[Pig tusk necklace: 5k]

Single strand necklace of pig tusks, dog and crocodile teeth, and seeds. This pig tusk, dog and crocodile tooth necklace was made on the Sepik River for trade in the Angoram Haus Tambaran.

[Boy with pig tusk necklace: 27k]

Young boy with pig tusk and bird of paradise necklace. Green beetles decorate the headband. Croton leaves are stuck in his armbands and dried grasses add to his feather headdress.

Pigs are one of a man's most valuable items in terms of status. Bride price, payback, any ceremonial occasion demands partial payment in pigs. Large pigs with tusks that curve back to form complete circles show wealth. The tusks are saved and used for necklaces and nose pieces. Many of the dancers, like the young boy in this photo, have pig tusks as part of their jewelry.

[Pig tusk nose piece: 13k]

Pig tusk nose piece with bilum string binding.

Bone, sometimes a deceased relative's or an enemy's bones, are worn as a remembrance and as a way to attract their spiritual power. Among some of the Highland people, smoked human fingers and hands were worn on necklaces.

Bracelet ornamented with small bones.

BILAS | Shells are Gold | String and Things

[Bone bracelet: 7k]

buy traditional jewelry from and from

Order art on-line: dealers and galleries
Wholesale information for dealers

Order now: Art Dealer in the Last Unknown, Ron Perry and New Guinea Art, the early years: 1964 - 1973 by Carolyn Leigh and Ron Perry, 320 pages of adventure, over 450 early photographs - join Ron in the jungles of New Guinea on his search for tribal art.


Melanesian art TOC | Map of art areas of Melanesia
Papua New Guinea: Highlands: body art - Bundi tapa - jewelry/dancers | Karawari and Blackwater Rivers: masks - carvings - map | Massim: artifacts- Trobriand Kula - map | Kula canoe | New Britain: Baining - Sulka - Tolai dukduk | New Ireland: Malagan | Ramu River: masks - carvings - map | Sepik River: masks - carvings - villages - map | Papuan Gulf: masks - carvings - map - Gogodala - Kukukuku
other areas: Asmat | Solomon Islands: crafts - jewelry - map
art and craft:
barkcloth (tapa) | body art | cane and fiber figures | canoes and prows | jewelry/dancers | masks - Middle Sepik | phallocrypts | pottery - Chambri | shields | story boards | suspension hooks | weapons | yam masks - fiber | yam masks - wood

Indonesian art TOC | Dyak baby carriers and masks | furniture | Java folk art | Lombok baskets | Lombok lontar boxes | masks from Bali and Java | puppets

China: Bai textiles/art TOC | baby carriers | baby hats | woodblock prints

Collecting New Guinea art in the field since 1964.

Art-Pacific Home | Site map | top of page

[New Guinea art logo] | Contact Us | Art-Pacific at

Artifacts on this site were collected in the field by my husband, Ron Perry. I take the photographs, do the html, text and maps. Background in Who We Are. Art-Pacific has been on the WWW since 1996. We hope you enjoy our New Guinea tribal art and Indonesian folk art as much as we do. by Carolyn Leigh is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-ND 4.0