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Samoan Ula Nifo Necklace


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'Ula (necklaces) were made from a variety of natural products that included fresh leaves, scented flowers, fruit, seeds, shells and whales' teeth. Most are still commonly used today. Threaded together in various combinations, 'ula are worn for festive occasions and given as gifts to arriving or departing guests.

The whale-tooth necklace is the most valued of Samoan necklaces and is traditionally worn only by chiefs and their offspring. Anciently, the 'ula lei (ula nifo) were a symbol of status and wealth. Made from the teeth of the sperm whale, they were split and ground down into curved and pointed pendants. From there, they were smoothed and polished, threaded onto a cord and worn around the neck.

These replicas, originally made from whales' teeth, are now made from bone pieces, white plastic and threaded onto a nylon line. A modern adaption includes dark soap seeds in between the the long bone pieces.