Glass Bead Necklace with Shells

This extraordinary necklace originates from the Naga tribe, who have their own distinct jewellery tradition.

The necklace consists of seven strands of mostly elongated beads, which are kept apart by four “spreaders” made of bone material.

The smaller orange and blue beads are traded glass beads, the larger white ones are made of shells cut into beads and pierced. The edged long shaped beads in orange are made of carnelian. Carnelian is found in the province of Gujarat, the westernmost state of India, which is 2200 km away from Nagaland. At the end of these seven strands of beads hang two pieces cut from the snail’s horn shell, which are interrupted by four separating rods made of bone material. The snail horn shell is a shell species which is often found in the Bay of Bengal.

This example shows a necklace of a wealthy owner, which is typically worn by the Angami Naga people in northeast India.

Object Glass bead necklace with shells
Culture Naga, East India/West Burma
Time Around 1900
Dimensions Length 90 cm
Material Glass beads, carnelian, shells, bone, cotton
Supplementing Literature Back to room view