Jump to content
Where our stories come alive
A shell necklace, comprised of a 1780 mm long single strand of conical opalescent green maireener (rainbow kelp or Phasianotrochus irisodontes) shells. The shells are strung in a regular pattern in which the pointed end of each shell faces away from the thread in alternating directions.
This collection consists of a 1780 mm-long necklace of opalescent green maireener (rainbow kelp) shells strung on strong thread. It was made in 1997 by Corrie Fullard, an elder of the Palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) community. The knowledge and skills of shell stringing was passed down through generations of her family - her parents and grandparents also made necklaces - and she is one of two elders regarded as senior custodians of the most significant cultural tradition of Palawa women. Dating back at least 2,600 years, necklace-making is one of the few Palawa traditions that has remained intact and has continued without interruption since before European settlement. Maireener necklaces were made as an adornment for ceremonies, as gifts, and as objects to be traded with other sea and land peoples for ochre and stone tools. After European settlement, they were also sold or exchanged for food, clothing and other supplies. Settlement influenced necklace-making itself, as the new tools and materials the women adapted into their practice also enabled the inclusion of new shells into their designs.
The connection of maireeners with the distinct culture and story of the Palawa people and with the Tasmanian natural environment have conferred them iconic status in the wider Tasmanian and Australian community. This collection is additionally significant because as an object and a practice it represents a rich expression of contemporary Palawa women's identity, heritage and creativity, and both the maintenance and ongoing development of cultural traditions.
L 235mm x W 210mm x D 10mm