Papua New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Tabu

The snail money tabu is made from the houses of Nassa mud snails. This kind of money is used on the Bismarck archipelago of Papua New Guinea still today. It buys food, tools or canoes, pays for the bride price, and is used to atone sentences, adultery or even murder. Moreover, tabu is necessary for the afterlife: At a funeral, the tabu of the deceased is distributed among the mourners in order to allow the soul of the departed to find its way into the spiritual world. There is a special bank on the Bismarck archipelago that exchanges tabu for kina, the national currency of Papua New Guinea. Locally produced goods are traditionally paid with tabu, while kina is used for imported goods. Thus, one cannot buy a piece of pork for two kinas on the Bismarck archipelago, but only for tabu worth two kinas.