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Ancient Black Agate Barrel Beads and Pendants with Handmade Granulated Silver Spacers


Swat Valley


Agate, Silver


The necklace is 21 ¾ inches (55.5 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 26 gm.







A necklace of forty-nine agate beads alternating with granulated silver bi cone beads. Forty-three of the agate beads are barrel beads and seven are pendants. The beads graduate in size from the front to the back of the necklace. The largest of the agate barrel beads is 9 mm in length, 5.9 mm in width at the center and 3.5 mm in width at the ends. The diameter of the drill hole is 2 mm. The smallest agate barrel bead is 4.5 mm in length and 3.5 mm in width. The diameter of the drill hole is 1 mm. The center pendant is 2 cm in height, 5 mm in width and 6 mm in thickness. There are very thin parallel white lines in the agate going from top to bottom. Some of the beads show whitening from prolonged exposure to alkaline soil. This results in a gray cast to the black agate layers and an opaque whitening to the clear and translucent quartz layers. There is some dark brown color in some of the layering in some of the beads. There are forty-eight granulated silver beads between each of the stone beads. These are also graduating in size to be consistent with the proportions of the agate beads. Each of these beads is composed of fifteen grains which have been fused together in three rings of five. The center grains are almost twice the size of the outer rings. A circlet of plain wire is a collar for the ends of these bi cone shaped beads. The agate beads come from the Swat Valley in what is now northern Pakistan. Two thousand years ago, this was part of the Buddhist kingdom of Uddiyana. Uddiyana (“the Garden”) 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,with each conqueror leaving 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. The clasp and beading tips are made from Fine (999) silver. The beading tips are cups with a stirrup attachment for the hook and eye clasp. The bottom is perforated for the cord to pass inside the cup where the knot is concealed. The hook and eye repeat the motif of the silver bi cone beads in the necklace.