Beads and jewellery

Marie Reay noted that beads were a popular form of adornment among the people she studied. Beads were often used as trade goods at the Government Station, in exchange for local produce. Reay recounted how one woman, Cass, would journey to Minj to sell her produce in exchange for "small quantities of coloured beads, which she hoarded to string together and hang about her neck and arms."

However, married women wearing beads were sometimes treated with mistrust. In her posthumously-published manuscript Wives and Wanderers, Marie Reay remarked several times how the wearing of beads led to violence and accusations of adultery:

He "forcibly removed her woven waistband and armbands and the beads she wore, for a man does not want other men to find his bride attractive"

"Bird shouted that it was plain that she had a lover because she decorated herself with scarf and beads and lap-lap whenever she visited Minj."

"Kai said angrily that it was clear that Muru had a lover because whenever she went to Minj she decorated herself with beads... He argued that if she didn’t have a lover she wdn’t [sic] bother decorating herself."

The photographs below are of beaded items collected by Marie Reay during her 1953-1955 fieldwork and donated to the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology collections. They are accompanied by photographs Marie Reay took in Papua New Guinea of people wearing beads that are a part of her collection at the ANU Archives.