UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI'I / DEPARTMENT OF ART & ART HISTORY
JOHN YOUNG MUSEUM OF ART

ABOUT

NEWS

COLLECTION

SUPPORT

Solomon Island Kapkap
Date: 
Geography: Oceania, Melanesia, Solomon Islands
Culture: Solomon Islands
Medium: White clam shell, turtle shell, animal (dog) tooth
Dimensions: H: 4 in.
Credit Line: Gift of The John Young Foundation
Accession Number: 1998.1.115

The Solomon Islands are a Pacific Island chain located east of Papa New Guinea, and are usually grouped into what is known as Melanesia. Solomon Islanders create many shell ornaments, such as this kapkap. These carved shell ornaments were normally made from precious white clam and turtle shell, and were typically worn by men. The kapkap was a spiritually and politically powerful item, that was often worn off-center on the forehead during important societal functions or funerary rites. This particular kapkap is characterized by delicate open work carving, geometric and free form shapes, and the exploration of negative and positive space created by the contrast of the brown turtle shell against the iridescent white shell. The dark brown overlay is comprised of the jagged six-pointed star and animal tooth in the center. Lightning bolt shaped lines radiate from the center in three bands that decrease in size as they near the middle. The positive and negative space that is exhibited by the brown atop the white, create further dimension and free form shapes, and around the outer ridge are small circles creating an overall uniform geometric composition; all of the motifs work together to create balance and symmetry.

  PREVIOUS
NEXT