6248

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Fine Naga Warrior’s Brass Neck Torque

Naga People, Eastern India/Western Burma
18th-19th century

width: 17cm, height: 15.1cm, weight: 203g

Available - Enquire

Provenance

private collection, London.

Brass torques or necklaces like this example were cast in one piece and were worn by Naga warriors as prestige items. It is believed that such torques were worn not only by warriors who could afford them but also by those who had taken heads, and were commissioned specifically from brass casters to commemorate their head-taking prowess.

The example here has been cast with thickened ends and has ten protuberances, two of which were in the form of human heads, the others with spiral motifs. The torque has incredible wear from handling and age. It is now barely possible to discern the detail of the heads and the spiral motifs. The fact that two heads are shown suggests that the owner had the torque made to commemorate two trophy heads taken in a raid by the owner (Untracht (1997, p. 64).)

The wear on this piece is important. It has made the torque particularly attractive and decorative – almost as if it is melted chocolate. But importantly, there are reproductions of such toques and it is clear from the wear on this example just how genuine it is. Given that such pieces most probably were heirloom pieces, it is possible that it dates to the 18th century.

Related examples are illustrated in Barbier (1984, p. 38), Untracht (1997, p. 64) and Jacobs (1990, p. 259).

The patina of the example here is even and the item is evenly worn. This is a splendid piece given its patina and wear.

References

Barbier, J.P., Art of Nagaland: The Barbier-Muller Collection Geneva, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1984.

Jacobs, J., The Nagas: Hill Peoples of Northeast India, Thames & Hudson, 1990.

Shilu, A., Naga Tribal Adornment: Signatures of Status and Self, The Bead Museum, Washington, 2003.

Untracht, O., Traditional Jewelry of India, Thames & Hudson, 1997.

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