Antique Peruvian Greenstone Beads and Spondylus Shell Discs with Crystal Center
Greenstone, Labradorite, Spiny Oyster Shell, Rock Crystal, Silver
The necklace is 25 ¾ inches (65.4 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 153 gm.
A necklace of thirty-two green stone barrel-shaped beads, eighteen spiny oyster (Spondylus princeps) shell disc beads and a large central drum-shaped rock crystal bead. Two of the green stone beads are discs and seventeen are barrel-shaped. There are thirteen barrel-shaped beads of a lighter, translucent stone, labradorite. The opaque green stones are probably a form of serpentine or perhaps variscite. The large drum shaped center bead of quartz is 1.75 cm in length, 2.6 cm in width, and has a drill hole that is 9mm at the surface but tapers to form a cone shaped perforation that meets its opposite which is drill from the other side. The bead is rounded in its form with no flat areas. The two short green stone beads on either side of the center bead are similar in form. The length is 1.05cm , 1.15cm, the width is 2cm and the drill hole diameter is 8mm at the surface, with the same hourglass shape as all the beads in the necklace. The green barrel-shaped beads are 1.05cm – 1.65cm in length, 1.25cm - .8cm in width and have conical drill holes that are 4mm-5mm in diameter at the surface. The labradorite barrel-shaped beads are smaller with lengths of .95cm – 1.2cm, widths of 8.5mm-9.5mm and drill holes of 4mm – 5.5mm diameter at the surface. The beads are said to be from Peru. Spiny oyster (Spondylus princeps) has been in use by Andean cultures since the Preceramic Period V (4200-2500 B.C.E.). It was considered a sacred material because of its symbolically important red orange color. There may have been more than just color symbolism to its significance. It can only be eaten for half of the year. It becomes contaminated with the “red tide” algal blooms which make it poisonous to eat during the summer months. There has been speculation that it could have produced hallucinations during this time if eaten and that may have been exploited by shamans seeking visions. In any case, half shells have been found at Wari water shrines as offerings. It was traded widely and beads and ornaments were made from it. The symbolism of the green stone color is less recondite: green is the color of new plant growth and plenitude.