Enquiry about object: 6602
Naga Cowrie Shell Apron or Loin Cloth
Naga People, Burma (Myanmar) early 20th century
length: 69.2cm, width: 22.5cm, weight: 548g
UK art market
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This fine loin cloth or apron would have been worn by a Naga man over his front with the top section tucked into a waist band to hold it in place.
It comprises a hand-sewn, double-layered, hand-woven cotton textile that has been sewn with hundreds of cowrie shell halves (each shell has been cut so that the back of the shell has been removed to make it flat to allow it to be attached.)
The Naga homelands of western Burma and north-eastern India are landlocked. The ample use of cowrie shells shows the preference the Naga had for ostentatious displays of trade good items, as a visual demonstration of personal wealth and success.
The apron is in excellent condition with no losses to the cowrie shells.
Jacobs, J., The Nagas: Hill Peoples of Northeast India, Thames & Hudson, 1990.
Saul, J.D., The Naga of Burma: Their Festivals, Customs and Way of Life, Orchid Press, 2005.
Shilu, A., Naga Tribal Adornment: Signatures of Status and Self, The Bead Museum, Washington, 2003.