"We are one of the only peoples in the world stringing shells like this, so I think it is quite definitive of Tasmanian Aboriginal people. It is incredibly important to me personally and to our Community at large, whether you are practicing shell stringing or not."

Ashlee Murray - shell artist

Shell stringing is a celebration of culture and a symbol of identity – an unbroken string that connects the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community, to Ancestors, culture and Country. 

For Pakana (Tasmanian Aborigines) an intimate understanding of Sea Country and the skill of collecting and stringing shells extends far beyond living memory. 

Pierced shells from Tasmania’s west coast have dated the tradition to at least 1800 years ago. Shell stringing is the Community’s longest continued cultural practice, a practice which not only withstood invasion but continued throughout the Black War and during the time Pakana Ancestors were incarcerated in government missions at Wybalenna on Flinders Island and Oyster Cove, south of Hobart. 

Today, connection to Country and cultural knowledge of shell resources, the weather patterns and the tides remains within the Pakana Community, particularly the shell stringers. 

Pakana proudly continue this unique tradition and honour the fortitude of their Ancestors who ensured its survival.