Fiji Islands, Whale Tooth Money Tambua

Tambua, the tooth of the sperm whale, is the most valuable medium of exchange on Fiji. Tambua are used for important transactions, for instance to pay the bride price. Besides, whale teeth are valuable gifts for births, deaths, weddings, or other festivities. The older and bigger the teeth are, the higher their value. Sperm whales have 25 to 50 teeth in their lower jaw; big teeth have a length of about 20 centimeters (7.85 inches) and can weigh up to 1 kilogram (35.3 ounces). The older the teeth are, the redder they get. Our specimen has a length of 18 centimeters (7 inches), a weight of 480 grams (16.9 ounces), and is of slightly reddish color.