|The Trobriand Islanders, off the east coast
of New Guinea, constitute the subjects of one of the earliest works of
ethnography and economic anthropology authored by Bronislaw Malinowski,
a major figure in the discipline (Malikowsi 1922). He identified several
unique and fascinating economic institutions within Trobriand society but
the "kula ring" has attracted the most attention. This system of
exchange involves annual inter-island visits between trading partners who
exchange highly valued shell ornaments.
There are two types of shell valuables or vaygu'a
A Trobriand Kula expedition
Each participant is linked to two partners:
Malinowski considers the motivation for the enormous expenditure of time and effort involved in kula expeditions to be fundamentally non-utilitarian "in that they [the kula valuables] are merely possessed for the sake of possession itself, and the ownership of them with the ensuing renown is the main source of their value". However, the development of kula partnerships has many social implications.