c1870 Fijian Wasekaseka Whale Teeth Status Necklace


A rare and highly desirable Fijian Wasekaseba necklace made of Sperm Whale tooth, produced around 1870.

The necklace consists of 12 sections or Sisi, cut and shaped from an original Sperm Whale tooth or Tabua. The Sisi have holes at one end and are held together by a piece of string. Condition is very good. The ivory has a butterscotch colour of age. One of the teeth has a chip to the tip. Whales were not hunted in Fiji before European contact, though they were sometimes stranded on the shore. So until the early nineteenth century, whale ivory was only available in small quantities, and used by influential, high-status individuals. Later, when whale teeth became more available, they were used more frequently in ornaments and necklaces, though such necklaces were never common and were the most valuable of all traditional Fijian objects.

Length teeth: 6.5 cm (2 9/16 inches)
Weight: 114 g