8989

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    Naga Pair of Rock Crystal Ear Ornaments (Tongpang)

    Naga People, Eastern India/Western Burma
    19th century

    width: 4.2cm, length: 3.7cm, thickness: approximately 1.3cm, combined weight: 81g

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    Provenance

    UK art market

    This pair of ear ornaments, carved from rock crystal (others are in glass), was  worn by women from certain Naga tribes. Ownership of such ear ornaments was a sign of significant wealth.

    Each was worn suspended in the distended earlobe with the opening pointing downwards.

    They are slightly curved or rounded on the front side and flat on the back.

    The name of the ornaments varied with the type of Naga group. The Ao called them tongpang, the Konyak called them naju, the Phom called them chusok, and so on, although the wearing of them is thought to have been more prevalent among the Ao.

    According to Ganguly (2007, p. 57) the earrings were said to have a bewitching effect charming the wearer’s lover at night because the wearer’s face was mirrored in the ear ornaments!

    Similar examples are illustrated in Ganguly (2007, p. 57), Borel (1994, p. 153), Shilu (2003, p. 23), and Jacobs (1990, p. 322.)

    The pair here is in very good condition. They have plenty of natural inclusions and fissures, but no breaks or cracks.

    References

    Borel, F., The Splendour of Ethnic Jewelry: From the Colette and Jean-Pierre Ghysels Collection, Thames & Hudson, 1994.

    Ganguly, W., Earrings: Ornamental Identity and Beauty in India, B.R. Publishing Corporation, 2007.

    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.

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