|Title||Naga Necklace Brass Pendant India 25 Inch|
|Materials||Brass colored metal (unknown metal content) string and glass.|
|Made In||India, Nagaland?|
|Overall Condition||Good. Some of our beads have traveled at least three continents, and have graced numerous owners. Small chips, corrosion, and pitting are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.|
|Damage/Repair||Oxidation and cracked beads.|
|Object Size||5-13 mm diameter.|
|Necklace Length||25 inches|
|Pendant Size||1 x 4 inches. See picture with penny for size comparison (US penny is 19 mm diameter).|
Additional Information: Naga jewelry is beautiful, complex, and yet orderly.
Glass beads make up the primary parts of Naga jewelry. Most glass beads used by the Naga are made by Indians from Assam. Occasionally, some older beads may be featured in Naga necklaces such as Venetians and Czech beads from Europe. Additionally, the Naga use carnelian beads and cowrie shells from Knambhat or Cambay in Gujarat.
The Naga, like many ethnic groups around the world use their ornamentation to let others around them know who they are and what their status is in the community. They casted brass and bronze alloys to create trophy head-shaped pendants to reward a warrior for his abilities in headhunting.
Although the Nagas stopped their headhunting ways a long time ago, the stories of their head taking ornament rewards is still intriguing. For instance, if a warrior wore human hair embellishments that implied a head had been taken and hair was from that head. The most prized hair was long hair from a woman's head. This told the admirer that this warrior was able to sneak deep into the camp and take a well-protected woman’s head. The Naga believed that protection given to the woman would now protect the warrior who took her head.
The Naga believed cowrie shells symbolized the drawing of blood. These shell would be worn on men’s spears, wristlets and ceremonial aprons. Women rarely wore cowrie shells unless her warrior father let his daughter wear his cowrie circle cloth to special ceremonies. Circle cowrie cloths symbolized the moon which would be in the sky when a warrior would often raid villages at night.
Beads were worn by all Nagas men and women alike. Bead ornamentation was worn constantly, they were viewed as being an essential part of a person. Beads are the first jewelry worn by a Naga baby, telling world this child is now a part of the community. In some Naga groups, the removing of beads from a person body meant that they were now a non-being. So it was important to at least have one string of beads on at all times for good luck.
Chank shells were worn in some communites in which it represented the rich while in other villages, the inner part of chank shells were made into long necklaces representing brotherhood and sacrifice of a mithun, large domestic bovine.
The Naga people live in the northeastern mountainous area of India. The Naga, who share some cultural activities, are separated into different tribes known as the Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khiamungan, Konyak, Kabui, Lotha, Mao, Maram, Memi, Phom, Rengma, Sangtam, Sema, Tangkul, Yimchunger and Zeliangrong. Nagaland has a population of approximately two million people. For centuries, the Naga lived an agricultural and head hunting existence, but that changed once they came into contact with the British in the 1830’s. The Nagas and the British engaged in warfare for many years until in 1922, the British gained control of the area and integrated it in their take over of other Indian states. The British enforced a monetary and economic system over the Naga which in turn changed their cultural existence to this day. During British occupation, Christian missionaries from the United States and Europe converted many Nagas from animism to Christianity. The official language of Nagaland today is English.
See NAGA TRIBAL ADORNMENT SIGNATURES OF STATUS AND SELF By Ayinla Shilu Ao
Additional information: The Naga are hill people of Northeast India. They are radically different from the better known Hindu people of India. They made use of a variety of glass beads, primarily bright colored, and also used conch shells on which they drew pictures rather like petroglyphs. They used to engage in head hunting.
For more information, and examples similar to this piece, see THE NAGAS, by Julian Jacobs.