This double strand of natural turquoise beads known as a jokla (pronounced ‘HO-kla’), is from the Navajo Pueblo People of New Mexico in the South-West corner of the United States and were worn by Navajo men.
The mid sections are composed of clam shell beads. The ends are fixed with small coral-red glass beads. (The clam-shell beads are said to represent kernels of corn.)
The beads are strung on their original cotton twine and the fastener comprises a loop and an old button.
Turquoise and shell beads were worn by the native peoples of the South-West in the belief that they would imbue the wearer with powers associated with attractiveness. Some groups also ascribed curative properties to turquoise.
A 19th-20th century dating for the necklace itself is reasonable, however, individual beads may be much older. Beads tended to be strung and restrung and were passed down the generations. There have been large, bead trading networks across the region for at least a thousand years.
The beads are wearable and have superb patinas.
Allen, Jamey D., pers. comm., December 2019.
Leurquin, A., A World of Necklaces: Africa, Asia, Oceania, America from the Ghysels Collection, Skira, 2003.