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Ancient Carnelian Turtle Amulet with Lapis Lazuli and Turquoise


Swat Valley


Carnelian, Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Silver


The necklace is 17 ˝ inches (45.4cm) in length. The necklace weighs 9.7 gm.







A necklace of small lapis lazuli and turquoise disc beads with alternating carnelian “spar” beads and round tabular carnelian beads. There are also four carnelian beads with four trapezoidal sides. A pair of lapis lazuli drop pendants terminate the two free hanging strands that extend downward from the body of the carnelian turtle that is the focus of the necklace. The turtle is rendered in an abstracted form. The tabular body with a head extending from one end, is flat on the back side; the sides are notched with a single groove to indicate legs and the head is likewise delineated by rounding both the “shell” and the head which is distinguished from the body by grinding inwards to form a neck. A small groove on the top of the head (parallel to the length of the body) is the basis for rounding the protuberances to form the eyes. A groove across the front of the head indicates a mouth. The economy of means used to suggest the parts of the turtle recalls the strategies of abstraction employed by recent modernist art; however this piece is probably about two thousand years old. The turtle is 1.5cm from nose to tail. The bead is 1.1cm in width and 5cm in thickness. The parallel drill holes emerge from two notches at the back of the shell (which suggest a tail) and at the shoulders on either side of the head on the front side. The drill holes are 1.5mm in diameter. The lapis and turquoise disc beads are 3mm in width and length with drill holes of about 1mm. The tabular carnelian beads are 4mm in width and 3mm in thickness. They have drill holes of 1mm diameter. The carnelian “spars” are 10mm to 11mm in length and are drilled across their centers which are 3.5mm in width. The ends are pointed. The four trapezoidal beads are 4mm in length and 3.25mm in thickness. The beads have two sets of facing sides that are each tapered on alternating sides. The carnelian beads are from the Swat Valley area of northern Pakistan and are probably two thousand years old. The lapis and turquoise beads are from farther north in present day Afghanistan and are probably even older. The beading tips and hook and eye clasp are fine silver.