So this is what all the fuss is about! (more photos from Dobu Island can be seen here http://goo.gl/kiJTu)
Shirley Campbell with kula necklace (center) and two bracelets (either end). Shirley is an anthropologist who is a notable expert on the Kula Trade; she wrote the book "The Art of Kula". The valuable (kula) parts of the necklaces are the two round shell arm bands (which are male), and the red beads on the necklace (which are female). The rest of the stuff is attached decorations. Over time a man gains fame and prestige by transacting shells of high quality (= high rank). The oldest, largest, highest rank Conus shells have unique names. Only large shells can move up through the ranks to achieve fame and unique personal identities. You can tell their age by their color. New shells are white and the older ones gather a yellow, then red patina as they are handled. So the shell on the right of the photo is more valuable since it is larger and darker coloured. The necklaces are made of red spondylus shell. A high ranking shell string is very thin and very smooth from repeated handling. Some high ranked name shells have been circulating continuously for 100 years or more, and serve as a medium for fostering relationships between people. OK, enough about the kula stuff, already; Dobu has some cool witches that I'll tell you about in another post.
I'm really chuffed that some of my work is profiled in the new issue of Jim Zukerman's Photo Insights Magazine. Jim is a world-renowned professional photographer, and I can certainly recommend his on-line magazine for all the wonderfully helpful tips that he gives to photographers each month. There is a link to all the previous issues near the back of this month's issue. http://issuu.com/jimzuckerman/docs/june__13 edit