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The most prized shells for necklace making by Aboriginal shell necklace makers are the group of shells known collectively as maireener shells. There are five species of maireener shells. maireener is a pallawa kani word that is used for this group of shells that are typically cleaned to expose the iridescent/opalescent under layer and sometimes for shell necklaces collectively. The word has gained international currency in recent years due to the interest in the necklaces made from these particular shells – particularly those sold online via auctions such as eBAY.
The images below have been drawn from the most authoritative reference for Tasmanian shells – Simon Grove's website http://www.molluscsoftasmania.net. The following shells are those used by Tasmanian Aboriginal necklace makers who are licenced by the Tasmanian Government to collect the live shellfish for necklace making – SCHEDULE 4 – PRESCRIBED FISH FOR DEFINITION OF ABORIGINAL ACTIVITY ... Regulation 22 Click here to go to the Act
Below each image there is a link to the shell's reference on the ATLAS OF LIVING AUSTRALIA which shows the distribution of the shells within Australia overall.
maireener (Pink-tipped Kelp shell) ... Phasianotrochus rutilis
Buckies, Pheasant shell or Painted Lady ... Phasianella australis
Banded or Silver Kelp shell ... Bankivia fasciata
Banded Periwinkle or Blue and Brown Gulls ... Nodilittorina unifasciata