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La Roche 13-08-2016

De route der toevalligheden krijgt een internationaal tintje en dus gaan we nu verder in het Engels.

Coincidentally the box with the necklace ended up in a place where I have recently settled. In a small town, in the same street, a few houses down the road. How is that for coincidence!  Especially since I first saw the necklace a few months ago when it was completely bare and still waiting for something to be added to it. How is that possible? Sanna, the brains behind Blei-Ji and creator of the necklace, happens to be my best friend. And now faith has brought the box to my home and I am fortunate enough to add my story to the “Route of Coincidences!”

I have added some shells that mean a lot to me, to the impressive ever-growing necklace.

During my many years of travelling I have collected quite a few souvenirs along the way, including jewelery. Of all the things I have gathered over the years, the only thing I always wear is my Bagi shell bracelet (a former necklace, however due to Australian customs, it was cut in half as there was a banana seed in the middle of it).

When travelling on expedition ships for many years, Papua New Guinea has always been one of the most intriguing destinations we often visited. And the more we visited the more we learned about the people and their traditions. We have made many friends along the way and on our multiple visits we have been able to trade quite a few items, often with a funny story to go with it.

Part of this bracelet is now flying across the Atlantic Ocean. To my dear friend Mary, who I have met on one of those many travels and with whom I have had the fortune to explore many wonderful places on this incredible planet.

We have been offered many crafts and arts (some skillfully made, others very interestingly looking!) in return for the weirdest items including CDs, tents, shoes and Swiss army knives. It was at Kitava (the island of love in the Trobriands) where my husband traded his Leatherman pocketknife for an impressive Bagi necklace.

The Bagi shell necklace is part of a very complex traditional trading method in Papua New Guinea. Bagi are red shells strung together and worn as a necklace and is a principal trading item in the Kula ring, which has been around for hundreds of years. Kula shells traditionally move through a series of islands, along a particular path. There are two types of shells used in the exchange, white shell armbands (Mwali) and red shell necklaces (Bagi). The Mwali move in a counterclockwise path through the villages in which the various Kula partners live. The Bagi pass through the same hands, but move clockwise, or the opposite direction to the Mwali. If we were to begin with any one man, draw a line tracing the path of the shells, as in a picture made by the connecting dots, we would have described a circle leading back to the origin point. A shell makes this circuit in anywhere from two to five years.

Mwali and Bagi are both assessed for their value based on size, colour and how well they are polished or finished. In addition the shells increase in value with age and both men and shells gain prestige in their association with one another. A man may gain fame and notoriety for having possessed a particularly fine armband; similarly, a necklace may be highly regarded for having been owned by a great man. To be big in Kula is to be big in most other things.

Once our necklace was abruptly cut into 2 halves we turned them into two matching bracelets and have both worn them ever since. Part of this bracelet is now flying across the Atlantic Ocean. To my dear friend Mary, who I have met on one of those many travels and with whom I have had the fortune to explore many wonderful places on this incredible planet. She too has witnessed the beautiful smiles of the children on Kitava, smelled the sweet scent of the Hibiscus and Frangipani flowers, discovered the magical underwater-world which Papua New Guinea has to offer and has most probably done some trading herself with one of the friendly locals.

The necklace its new destination is Bozeman, Montana in the U.S.A. where it will be waiting for more adventurous journeys and letting faith decide its path.

With love,

Jarda