Wednesday, 12 March 2008 1:39 PM

The Traditional Drills of Marovo Lagoon

Before electrical drills that are now common in the Solomon Islands today, the stone drill has been widely used in the Western Province, an essential tool to create shell money.

The stone drill consists of bush vines, a stick and a stone that has been chipped and made smooth and round on the base, with a hole in the middle.

Speaking to one elder from the Marovo Lagoon in the Western Province, Mr Sam Kevu said that during the traditional days it was a necessary but time consuming task.

"To do it takes up to one month, but it is very useful for making our traditional currency," said Mr Kevu.

Most of the natural materials used to make the drill are collected deep in the jungles. One of the more difficult materials to find is a leaf called 'hyhyri.' The 'hyhyri' acts like a sandpaper and is used to smooth the stone for the drill.

Mr. Kevu said that since the materials were spread out deep in the jungles, they often use 'black magic' to locate the materials. Mr. Kevu said that as such, during the making of shell money, women cannot touch the drill, only the man and their sons are allowed.

Today, the traditional drills can only be found in the museums. Mr. Kevu explained that the missionaries banned the practice as it was associated with 'black magic.'