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Naga Conch Shell Bead Necklace

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

length: 60cm, weight: 216g

Available - Enquire


private collection, London

This necklace from the Naga people is utterly outstanding for its age, wear and patina. The patina and wear suggest significant wear from age and handling. Such beads were considered heirloom pieces. It is conceivable that this set might be as early as the 18th century.

The necklace comprises 38 beads on native cotton twine. Each of the beads is largely spherical and has been made from conch shell that has varying cream and dark colouring.

The unevenness of shape and size of the beads adds to their attractiveness.

Each bead has been hand drilled with a hole to allow it to be threaded.

Necklaces featuring conch shell components were a sign of wealth among the Naga peoples. Typically, the shells were traded into the Naga lands from the Bay of Bengal.

The necklace is from an old UK collection and was acquired in the early 1970s. It is stable and wearable.


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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