The Mayans inhabited a large portion of what is now Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and five states of Mexico: Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Campeche and Chiapas. I recently returned from a buying trip to two of those states in Mexico, and fell in love with this necklace. It is called a "chachal"--Quiché for necklace--and this type of necklace has been made by Mayan peoples since Colonial times. The pendants were often the same--coins forming a center and bottom area, with two quetzal birds on either side, and milagros hanging off the bottom row of coins. The use of coins was seen as a form of wealth and prestige. The beads are more traditionally made of red coral, or later pieces of red glass trade beads--again, the red symbolizing wealth and also good luck. The beads are often separated by coins and or milagros. Most chachals I've seen are from Guatemala, but this piece came from the region of Chiapas, and is likely a more recent piece, made with coins cast from molds of the original ancient coins. What is especially stand out in this piece is the gorgeous amber and amethyst beads used. The piece also has turquoise beads, and silver, and antique milagros and beads made from a copper alloy. The silver content in the piece is likely 800 silver or lower, and the milagros have high copper content. The piece has amazing presence, and with the colors of the beads, this chachal s stand out!
The necklace measures 29" not including the clasp, and the pendant hangs almost 4-1/2" down from the bottom. There is some tarnish, especially on the three milagros hanging--largely due to the copper content. This piece was displayed in a case in the collection with other tribal jewelry, but this was his only chachal, and it is in amazing condition, having not been worn for decades.
Amazing piece for the lover of indigenous jewelry.
Please convo with questions, or call (505) 369-6865. Will return your call as soon as possible.
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