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Fine Agate, Glass and Brass Bead Necklace with a Brass Trophy Head
Ao Tribe, Naga People, Burma/India
length: 75cm, weight: 405g
This very attractive Naga necklace comprises 22 agate beads, 20 brass trumpet-shaped beads, six European blue tile beads, two orange ceramic beads and
a brass trophy head pendant. The beads are threaded on natural twine string and secured by an old British colonial Indian one quarter anna coin used as a
button. The coin is probably contemporary with the necklace. It shows Edward VII ('King & Emperor') on the reverse. Edward ruled from 1901 to 1910. Or the
necklace pre-dates the coin - Naga women typically re-threaded their necklaces each year as the natural twines used to thread them tended to weaken
throughout the year from wear.
The agate or carnelian beads are of varying sizes but are tumble polished. The brass trumpet beads have been cast using the lost wax process and are
evenly spaced around the necklace.
The brass trophy head has been finely cast and has an excellent patina. Wear from handling is most evident about the head's mouth.
The Naga were attracted to rare goods that could be bartered from outside their region. Beaded necklaces were very popular as a show of finery but also as a
portable means of displaying and carrying wealth. The components that went into making necklaces were regarded as currency items themselves. Beads and
necklaces were accumulated as heirlooms and could be passed as dowries.
The necklace is in a fine, stable, wearable condition.
Jacobs, J., The Nagas: Hill Peoples of Northeast India, Thames & Hudson, 1990.
Schmitt, K., 'The language of Naga ornament: Beads, Bones and Hornbill feathers', Arts of Asia, July-August 2004.
Provenance: UK art market
Inventory no.: 2384
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