BY JOHN CHRISMA
SALE of custom shell money have spiked at the Honiara Central Market, thanks to the increased number of inter-ethnic marriages occurring in the country, according to a vendor from Langalanga Lagoon, Malaita province.
Custom shell money sales jumped since last year, and this year sales per day continue to increase.
Speaking on behalf of shell money vendors at the Central Market, Ghorreth Wale said that despite the impact of the State of Public Emergency affecting their profit earnings per day, the locals’ from other provinces in the country have continuously purchased a high amount of shell money to facilitate the traditional process of bride price payment.
She recently recalled questioning a woman from Rennell and Bellona province as to why she had to purchase a Tafuliae (shell money) from Malaita province.
“The Rennell woman replied that her son will marry a girl from Malaita province and she needs to buy a custom shell money for the payment of bride price.
“Other provinces in the country don’t produce or use shell money for the custom ceremony of bridal payments, however, today it’s a different picture as to the way we see things in the past and that is due to inter-ethnic marriages,” Ghorreth told Tourism Solomons.
Nowadays, the demand for custom shell money is quite higher compared to the past. Several provinces like Malaita, Makira, and Guadalcanal still use traditional shell money today, primarily for ceremonies, settling disputes, and bridal and land payments.
Due to the high demand for shell money in the local market, the labour intensity to produce shell money also needs to increase but negatives factors are threatening the very existence of the several species of seashells that are important to produce traditional shell money.
Whilst the population in Langalanga Lagoon, Malaita province has increased over the years, the population of various species of seashells has also decreased due to over-harvesting activities and practices.
Concerning the limited amount of marine resources, those who specialized in crafting shell money are forced to buy seashells (stuffed in bags) and transported to Honiara by ship from other islands in the various provinces in the country.