A personal narrative of particular things: Tevau (feather money) from Santa Cruz, Solomon Islands

Elizabeth BONSHEK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Abstract: In October 2006, Salome Samou, from Santa Cruz Island, Solomon Islands, visited the British Museum, London, to see the collections from her home island. This paper presents her response to the tevau in the collection (frequently referred to as ‘feather money’). Tevau are objects of prestige and value, formerly used in a regional network of exchange. They were especially important in bridewealth payments, but have not been used on Santa Cruz Island since the 1980s. Today, Samou wants to revive their use, a re-introduction that reflects a linkage of tevau and their manufacture to contemporary ideas of social identity. This paper explores Samou’s interaction with the tevau in the collection, including past interpretations of their use. For Samou, the process of viewing the tevau produced a narrative that embraced personal memories as well as challenged perspectives on past cultural and social practices. I discuss how these particular objects materialise transformed, and transforming, regimes of value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-92
Number of pages19
JournalThe Australian Journal of Anthropology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


Cite this