A Pre-Columbian Spondylus Shell Bead Pendant, Peru, ca. 300 - 500 CE
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A long tubular bead carved from a superb deep coral-colored spondylus shell, with a large drilled hole for attachment, strung on an adjustable 18k gold chain.
Spondylus shell was highly valued by all Pre-Columbian cultures, even more than gold. The spondylus shell (thorny or spiny oyster) was found in Pacific coastal waters from Panama to Northern Peru and was traded extensively throughout the Americas. The careful carving of this vibrant example exemplifies the ceremonial importance and ritual significance of the Spondylus. When carved, the shells revealed layers of vibrant colors in white, orange, and pink. Andean cultures used complete spondylus shells in ceremonial rituals and they were also cut into smaller pieces and used in jewelry, inlays, as trade currency, and placed in burials.
Dimensions: Bead length: 3.6 cm (1.4 inches) set as a pendant on an adjustable 18" gold chain of 18K gold.
Condition: The necklace is intact and in very good condition overall.
Provenance: Private Maryland collection, acquired in the 1970s and then by descent.