Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Shells

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.
Cleaned maireener shells
The images below have been drawn from the most authoritative reference for Tasmanian shells – Simon Grove's website http://www.molluscsoftasmania.netThe 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
*** maireener shells ...  Phasianotrochus apicinus

Buckies, Pheasant shell or Painted Lady ... Phasianella australis
 Banded or Silver Kelp shell ... Bankivia fasciata
Banded Periwinkle or Blue and Brown Gulls ... Nodilittorina unifasciata
 Oat or Dove shells ... Mitrella austrina
 Oat or Dove shells ... Mitrella axiaerata
Toothies or Toosies ... Marinula xanthostoma
Top shell ... Clanculus dunkeri
Conniwink or Dark and YellowButtons ... Bembicium melanostomum
Gold-mouth Conniwink ... Bembicium auratum
Wedge shell ... Paphies cuneata
*** Black Nerite or Black Crow ... Nerita atramentosa  
White Dog Whelk ... Nassarius nigellus
 Striped-mouth Conniwink or Striped Buttons ... Bembicium nanum

 Cats’ teeth or Variegated and Lined ... Rissoina Rissoina lintea
Cats’ teeth or rice shells ... Rissoina Rissoina various
Striped Dog Whelk ... Nassarius pauperatus
Mud Whelk shell ... Zeacumantus diemenensis
Cats’ teeth or Estuarine Mud Whelk shell ... Batillariella estuarina
Otherside Penguins or Pygmy Margin shell ... Mesoginella pygmaeoides
Rice or Rye shell ... Truncatella scalarina

*** Shell images with triple asterisks, the images have been gleaned from other sources as they were not available on at the time of preparing this site.

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