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Ancient Lapis Double Strand Collar Necklace with Graduated Pendants


Swat Valley


Lapis Lazuli, 22k gold


The necklace is 14 inches (36.5cm) in length. The necklace weighs 63.5 gm.







A necklace of one hundred and seventy-one lapis lazuli beads, twenty-three of which are double drilled pendant beads of an elongated form. Each of these are faced with 22k gold granulated ring beads. There are ninety-two of these gold beads in the necklace. The hook and eye clasp and beading tips are also 22k gold. The pendant beads are drilled at the mid point and also near the top. The ends are pointed and the beads are flat on the back and curved on the front side with the thickest part at the center. There are sets of parallel grooves at the top and bottom ends; There are three to five grooves on the top ends and five to seven grooves on the bottom ends. The largest bead is 4.1 cm in height and 7 mm in width. The thickness at the center is 9.8 mm. The diameter of the drill hole is 2.5mm. The smallest double drilled bead at the back of the necklace is 1.6 cm in height, 5mm in width and 7mm in thickness at the center. The drill hole diameter is 2mm. There are groups of three small lapis lazuli beads between each of the pendant beads. These are 3.5 mm in width, 2 mm in length with drill holes of 1.5mm. There are two larger lapis beads at the back of the necklace into which the two strands meet. These are 6 mm in width and 5.5 mm in length. The pendant beads have been selected to match. There are typically variations in the form of these beads (see SW-13 and M-21 for examples). In this necklace, the center bead is slightly different with three groups of three grooves; usually the grooves are only near the ends but in this one there is a group of three lines in the middle of the bead. The beads have also been selected for color. The dark blue lapis contrasts with the 22k gold of the granulated beads and clasp. The pendant beads have an unusual form that appears to us to be larval. There are jade beads found in tombs in western China that are said to depict silk worms. They date to about the same period as our lapis beads, to about two thousand years ago. Perhaps the forms of these lapis pendant beads were derived in some way from the Chinese jade beads. These beads come from the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan. Two thousand years ago, this area was part of the trans Himalayan culture that included influences from ancient India, Persia, Tibet and China through the Silk Road.