Object Type: Currency /Dish
Material: Moulded turtle shell
Dimensions across: 20 cm
The accumulation and exchange of wealth in the form of prestige valuables is an important aspect of Belauan culture. Although frequently referred to as “money,” Belauan valuables are not currency in the ordinary sense but treasured objects, often with extensive individual histories.
Women’s wealth consists of tolúk (shallow trays), such as the present work made from subtly mottled plates of
The trays are created through a complex process, in which flat plates of turtle shell are transformed into three-dimensional objects. To form the trays, individual plates of turtle shell are immersed in hot water to soften them. Now malleable, the plates are placed in two-part molds of wood, which are tied tightly together and further heated to press the plates into the desired bowl-like form.
The trays are carefully preserved and form part of a family’s store of wealth. Through years of exchange and handling, tolúk acquire individual histories and a rich, glossy patina