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Ancient Quartz Crystal Bead Necklace with Lapis Lazuli and Gold Plated Clasp


Swat Valley


Rock Crystal, Lapis Lazuli, Silver with 24k gold plating


The necklace is 19 ½ inches (49.6 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 5.5 gm.







A necklace of fifty-one rock crystal beads and sixteen lapis lazuli beads. The rock crystal beads are grouped in modules of three with nine teardrop shaped beads pendant in the center of their respective groups. There are four modules at the back of each side that are without pendant beads. Each module is separated by a round lapis lazuli bead. These lapis beads are each faced with a granulated vermeil bead. The clasp and beading tips are also Fine (999) silver plated with 24k gold. The center pendant bead is 1.9 cm in height 1.4 cm wide, and 6.5 mm in thickness. The drill hole is 1mm in diameter and located near the top of the roughly teardrop shaped pendant. The hole goes through the narrow width of the bead so that the pendant hangs with the narrow side to the front. The remaining pendants are similarly shaped and drilled and decrease slightly in size from 1.6 cm to 1.4 cm in height. The beads to either sides of the pendant beads are barrel shaped with slightly flattened forms. They are on average 1 cm in length and 8 mm in width and 6 mm in thickness. To the back of the necklace the modules have round beads on either side of either a barrel shaped bead or a round bead. The largest of these round beads is 9 mm in diameter and 8 mm in length. The smallest is 3.9 mm in length and 6 mm in diameter. Four of the middle beads are barrel shaped and four are round beads slightly larger than their facing pairs. The barrel beads are around 1 cm in length and 5 mm in width. One of the roundish beads in the middle ( in the third group from the back in the photograph) is actually a melon bead with six ribs; the bead is 7 mm in length and 1 cm in width at the widest point in the center. Its counterpoint on the other side of the necklace is a round bead that has been faceted with ten pentagonal shaped planes. It is 8 mm in length and 9 mm in width at the center. The lapis lazuli beads are around 4 mm - 3mm in diameter. The beads come from the Swat Valley in what is now northern Pakistan. The beads are somewhere between one thousand and two thousand years old. In those times Swat was part of a Buddhist kingdom known as Uddiyana (“the garden”). Afghanistan was a part of this kingdom; the gigantic Buddha statues at Bamiyan give testimony to its Buddhist past. There are ruins of a large stupa still there in the Swat Valley. Uddiyana was of considerable strategic and commercial importance in the ancient world. Its fertile valleys, warm climate, and above all, its central position on the busy trade routes between Asia and the Mediterranean made it valuable territory to control. As a consequence, it suffered numerous conquests, coming under the rule of the Persians with the reign of Darius I in the sixth century B.C.E., the Greeks under Alexander the Great, and the Indian Mauryans who introduced Buddhism to the region in the middle of the third century B.C.E. Subsequent invaders included Graeco-Bactrians from Afghanistan, Scythians from Central Asia and Parthians from Iran. Each conquer left an imprint on the culture; the result was a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic society which is reflected in the many types and materials of the beads that are found there.