Conch shell trumpets are among the ancient symbols of a vast range of cultures across the globe, from the ancient Mediterranean to South Asia, and from Africa to Central America. The peoples of the South Pacific also included conch trumpets in their traditions. To Polynesians of Mangara in the Cook Islands, the penetrating blast of the conch shell represents the voice of Rongo, the god who gave fire to mankind. In Tonga, conch shells (kele'a) may play in ensembles of two to five parts. In addition to music and ritual, conch trumpets were also used for signaling.
This fine trumpet features beautiful natural patterning and coloration of pinks, browns, and warm greys. While the mouth hole is found at the side in this trumpet, other examples are pierced at the tip and fitted with a mouthpiece. An old collection label is adhered to the inside wall of the shell’s main opening, the rim of which has a chipped section.