Monday, June 7, 2010

Found on eBAY: NOT apple seed, NOT Tasmanian, NOT made by a Tasmanian Aboriginal maker.

SOLD: 13 Jun, 2010 – 21:07:04 AEST
2 Bids – Winning bid: AU $27.00

Click on the image to enlarge
This entry on eBAY was logged at 5.20 pm AEST on June 7
While the seller has given potential buyers some Internet sites to visit they seem to have been chosen for the contradictory and confusing information that they give. Indeed, the Hawkins' antique site is out of date. This is a case where science has proven that the seeds are NOT apple seeds and there is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER for the seeds themselves – Leucaena leucocephala – being imported into Tasmania or for there being any Tasmanian Aboriginal involvement in this class of work's manufacture.

Interestingly, there are reports of these seeds turning up in necklaces made by Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory where the Leucaena leucocephala plant is an invasive woody weed. It is worth noting that Leucaena leucocephala is a tropical plant that will not grow in Tasmania except under artificial conditions.
ipil seed Aboriginal Tasmania apple seed necklace

Sunday, May 23, 2010

eBAY Find – May 2010 Australia

Sadly this photograph does not give us a clear view of this necklace, nonetheless it bears all the hallmarks of Filipino/Palawan cultural production. It also provides further evidence of how deeply etched the "apple seed" misinterpretation is in the Globalised cultural imagination.

If something looks like something it is not always what it appears to be.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

eBAY Find – May 2010 SA

To have your work copied is an unacknowledged mark of respect but it does seem that this seller is relying upon the information posted here to lend credibility to his sale. There is not much more to say about this find except what's been said on the site before.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Found on eBAY_ Filipino Not Tasmanian


The seller here was labouring under a set of common misunderstandings ... " a wonderful vintage Tasmanian Aboriginal shell and seed necklace ... it measures approx 16" from end to end and is strung on black cotton string ... necklace has a stunning intricate design with apple seeds and aboriginal shells strung together"

Well it is quite clear that this necklace is NOT Tasmanian Aboriginal – see earlier postings here. Why? Well:
  • The string pattern is not one that was used by Tasmanian Aboriginal necklace makers;
  • The seeds are not apple seeds as is commonly claimed – albeit not by this seller – and are in fact ipil-ipil seeds from a tropical acacia tree;
  • The shells are not of a kind found in Tasmania and are typical of shells found in tropical waters – Tasmania's waters are far from being tropical;
  • and thus everything stacks up for this necklace originating in the Philippines, possibly in the 1960s/70s and related to necklaces exported to the USA, Australia and elsewhere as 'hippy beads'.
However it is a wonderful necklace and typical of those believed to have been made from apple seed , not ipil seeds, in Tasmania.For this one to turn up with this stringing patern and shells is important information. Also, it must be noted that the seller was working with the very best information available to her; was being totally honest with her clients;and was trading with the utmost integrity. Indeed, she is now cooperating with the network in our research effort.

The discovery that apple seeds were in fact 'ipil-ipil seeds' quashed the growing belief in Tasmania that these necklaces were made by Tasmanian Aboriginal people. It also put to rest the idea that they were even made in Tasmania. It is a small world and things move around in it.

Interestingly, the evidence is stacking up for these necklaces originating in an Indigenous culture – it is just that it was in the Philippines and NOT Tasmania.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

FOUND: A Source Culture For Ipil-ipil [apple] Seed Necklaces

Please click on the maps to enlarge the image

Via the Internet we now have clear evidence that:
  • Ipil-ipil trees can be found anywhere in The Philippines – but Palawan is a key area where cultural production using these seeds occurs today;
  • The ipil-ipil tree is used as to control soil erosion;
  • The seeds are known to have medicinal properties as well – the young seeds which is green color;
  • The matured seeds – dried thus, turned brown – are being made into bags, bracelets, chokers, necklaces and anklets;
  • Ipil-ipil trees can be found in the urban and rural areas in the Philippines.
Our correspondent tells us "when we were kids we used to play with these seeds. We ate it raw – young seeds – as it is good for Detoxification of toxins ... The products are made by the tagbanuas, an indigenous tribe in Palawan (Southern Luzon) ... the tree can be used as Lumber as well ... The main issue [for the tagbanuas] is to reclaim their ancestral domain ... The tagbanuas also make bracelets, or body accessories out of other seeds of other Philippine trees. But they don't cut the trees just to gather the seeds."

TAGBANUA: Tagbanua are considered as the most widely distributed ethnic group in the Palawan Island. This people can be found living in coastal or near coastal areas of the island - some near the Palawan's river systems. They mainly plant rice for its ritual significance as well as camote, corn, taro, millet and cassava. The Tagbanua are famous for their beautifully crafted body accessories. Their combs, bracelets, necklaces and anklets are usually made of wood, beads, brass and copper. This group is also known for their expertise in basket weaving and wood carving.

The Tagbanuas are brown-skinned slim straight-haired ethnic group. Women wear bright body ornament and brighty colored clothes. They believe in a fairy called "Diwata", which they account for they lives. Marriages are arranged from the age of 12 and polyandry is common. Women with several husbands are considered to be in demand, thus, worthy of high dowries. Both the Tagbanuas and the Bataks developed their own written language like the Mangyans of Mindoros that are inscribed mostly on bamboo tubes. Click Here for More Information

Our correspondent belongs to an organisation fostering 'Fair Trade' and sustainable development in The Philippines. So there is now a good base to work from in understanding these necklaces understood as "apple seed necklaces" in Tasmania much better.

It is a story that is full of irony but nonetheless it is a very rich one.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Click on the image to enlarge
This item is almost certainly made from ipil-ipil seeds and other tropical seeds available in The Philippines

More information from the seller: I acquired the bracelet and quite a few Appleseed necklaces through a local antique shop. I don't know much about them except that the gentleman I buy them from buys from a lot of estate sales. I have plenty of Appleseed
necklaces but have never come across a bracelet before.


PHP100 = $3.50 (Approx) and to have such a necklace restrung in Australia consistent with the stringing pattern here would easily exceed $100. Most people would choose not pay that in comparison to what else $100 would buy them.

It is worth considering what PHP100 would buy in The Philippines. Today it would buy:half a chicken, 5 kebabs, 250 gms of prawns, 1 mud crab, 2 grandies (beer), 2 flasks of rum, 2 ice creams, sari sari meal, half a kilo of rice, a cup coffee & cake, 2 shapou (buns), a worker for a good part of a day, a 10K taxi fare, a ticket to a film show and 10 cokes.

TASRN is looking at ways it might find the makers of ipil seed necklaces in The Philippines in order to find out some of the histories linked to this work. We are working with people with connections and organisations such as World Vision, The Preda Foundation & People's Global Exchange Philippines, Filipinos in Tasmania and Queensland as well as people in the arts community with Filipino connections. We would also like to hear from people who have connections to The Philippines and/or who might have some information about this area of cultural production!