This week we’ll travel to Papua New Guinea and look at the 2 Kina 5c 1981 note. This note is our bi-weekly featured note at a lower price for a limited time only! Papua New Guinea is a province of Indonesia and is considered part of Oceania. This note depicts many things – including a bird of paradise perched on a Kundu drum and ceremonial spear, a Mount Hagan Axe, a Kula Arm Band, engraved dogs’ tooth necklace, Sepik clay pot, and tapa cloth patterns.
The bird of paradise is significant as it is the national bird of Papua New Guinea – specifically the Raggiana bird of paradise as there are actually 42 different species of these birds. The plumage that this bird is known for (and is shown in the picture on the note) is sexually dimorphic, meaning only the males have it. In addition to being on some banknotes, the bird of paradise is also displayed on the flag of Papua New Guinea. On this banknote the bird is perched on a Kundu drum, which is an hourglass shaped drum that is formed by carving and burning a log, and usually has a handle placed at the narrowest part of the drum. One end is covered with lizard or other animal skin, while the other end is left open. These drums are played at national celebrations as a part of song and dance rituals.
The items depicted on the back of this note are various items used to show status, or for barter, or bride prices. For example, 3-4 Mount Hagan Axes would be a typical bride price. These axes were prized possessions, taking up to a year to make. The dogs’ tooth necklaces showed the economic status of the owner as the teeth were quite rare and had to be a certain size and quality to be used in jewelry. The German Colonists in Papua New Guinea learned of this and took advantage by mass producing porcelain replicas of the teeth which were very hard to distinguish from the real thing, except that the real teeth would eventually begin to decay. The German Colonists did not understand, or perhaps did not care, about the aspect of the cultural and social value of the actual teeth versus a replica.
This was a very interesting note to research and I hope you enjoyed learning about it as much as I did!
Country: Papua New Guinea
Denomination: 2 Kina
Pick #: 5c
Other Info: Sign 3
Depictions: Stylized bird of paradise; Artifacts
Note Size: 5 1/2″ x 2 3/4″
Continent: Australia and the South Pacific
Watermark: Stylized bird of paradise