In the busy village, in the shade of a simple shelter, two beadmakers ply their craft. They have a journey in two days time to a neighbouring island, and are working to create sufficient red beads – made from Chama sarda (cherry jewel box clam) – for trade. They have already prepared large batches of white and black beads, a few of which are loosely strung on cord in the small gourd bowl in the foreground.
On the right, a man positions the bead blank (an un-perforated disk) on a wooden plank, before working the pump drill to create the central hole for each bead. Beside him is a second drill pump as well as additional drill bits, for when the drill in use gets dull.
On the left, the second man holds a finished bead up to the light, to check its colour and finish. He has just been polishing it, together with the other strung beads. In his right hand he has a finished string of perfectly symmetrical beads that he uses as quality control. A small bowl of beads that have passed his critical review is at his feet. Their hard work is creating a product that will be appreciated and valued by their neighbours to the south. In the background, the women prepare cassava for the evening meal (see details in “Cassava and mischief”).