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Swat Valley


Lapis Lazuli, Carnelian, Quartz, Silver


The necklace is 19 inches (48.8 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 57.2 gm.







A necklace of twenty-five double drilled lapis lazuli beads strung on a double strand of one hundred thirty-two cylindrical carnelian beads with clear and white quartz banding. The sixty-six beads in the top strand are slightly smaller than the sixty-six in the bottom strand which gives the curve to the strand that allows it to fit properly on the wearer's body. The carnelian cylinder beads range in size: The largest is 6 mm in length and 4.2 mm wide. The smallest is 4.5 mm in length and 2.3 mm wide. The diameters of the drill holes are 2 mm to 1.2 mm. The lapis pieces graduate in size towards the back of the necklace. The center bead is 3.2 cm in height. It is 6 mm wide at the center and 8.8 mm thick at the thickest point just above the center. The smallest is 1.45 cm in height and 5.3 mm wide. It is 6 mm thick at the center. The diameters of the drill holes are 2 mm. There are variations in the forms but all follow the same basic schema: An elongated form is drilled through the side at the middle or just above the middle. A second hole is drilled through the side near the top. The bottom half tapers to a narrower point than the top half. The form is flat on the back and bulges outward at the middle. A series of grooves is cut across the form at the top end and the bottom end. These can be as few as two grooves across the top and three across the bottom to five across the top and seven across the bottom. The idea seems to be to fill the space rather than to have a specific number of grooves. Some of the pieces lack the groves entirely, or have faint traces, probably due to wear. There have been a number of suggestions as to what these forms represent. We favor the idea that these are representations of silk worms. There are jade versions of larval forms found in tombs in China from the Warring States Period and Western Zhou. We think that these may be the prototypes for these lapis lazuli beads. The time period is about the same roughly 500 B.C. to 500 A.D. These beads come from the Swat Valley in what is now northern Pakistan, between the Indus River and the Karakoram Mountain range to the north. The clasp and beading tips are sterling silver.