This vintage bib necklace is magnificent, one of those pieces that is so much better in person than photos can convey. It was made by the Naga people of Northeast India and Northwest Burma, in the village of Konyak Wakching. It was purchased in the 1960s although it could be older, and the beads possibly antique. Nine strands all strung on thread are connected by carved bone or horn spacers. Five strands emerge at the ends and the piece closes with a carved bone or horn button, characteristic of Naga jewelry. It is a superb example of an older Naga bib that I've seen. The piece came to me from a collector and former museum curator, now in his late 70s, who began collecting ethnographic jewelry and art when he was in his early 20s. While he acquired the piece in the 1960s, it's actual age is unknown, and as he says, it is not the age of Naga jewelry but the material that makes it valuable. And indeed, what stands out about this necklace is the subtle beauty in the combination of milky white glass beads with green and brilliant almost neon orange. These bib necklaces are still made today but the difference is that new ones are often made of brightly colored plastic beads. These glass beads have "patina" which includes darkening on edges from age and wear. My friend wore this frequently in the 50 years that he owned it, and when he wasn't wearing it he would hang it as art on a narrow slice of wall. Authentic older Naga necklaces of this quality reach upwards of $8,000-$10,000 in value.
For insight into the Naga culture and adornment, please check out this blog post: https://chambersarchitects.com/blog/art-design-vanishing-cultures-historical-preservation-part-three/
The necklace is about 25" from tip to tip, and the hang length is about 12-13" depending on the width of one's neck. Weighs 241g. Some fraying of the threads at the ends.
Vanishing art of vanishing peoples.
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