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Pair of Rock Crystal Ear Ornaments (Tongpang)
Naga People, Eastern India/Western Burma
19th century

height (approx): 4.7cm, width: 4.7cm, thickness: 0.9cm,  combined weight: 113g

These ear ornaments carved from rock crystal (others are in glass) were worn by women from certain Naga tribes and were a sign of significant wealth.

Their name varies with the type of Naga group. The Ao call them
tongpang, the Konyak call them naju, the Phom call them chusok, and so on, although the
wearing of them is thought to have been more prevalent among the Ao.

They were worn suspended in the distended earlobe with the opening pointing downwards.

According to Ganguly (2007, p. 57) the earrings were said to have a bewitching effect charming the wearer's lover at night because the wearer's face was
mirrored in the ear ornaments.

Similar examples are illustrated in Ganguly (2007, p. 57), Borel (1994, p. 153), Shilu (2003, p. 23), and Jacobs (1990, p. 322.)

The examples here have plenty of inclusions and fissures, and old breaks which have been (finely) rejoined.

References:
Borel, F.,
The Splendour of Ethnic Jewelry: From the Colette and Jean-Pierre Ghysels Collection, Thames & Hudson, 1994.
Ganguly, W.,
Earrings: Ornamental Identity and Beauty in India, B.R. Publishing Corporation, 2007.
Jacobs, J.,
The Nagas: Hill Peoples of Northeast India, Thames & Hudson, 1990.
Shilu, A.,
Naga Tribal Adornment: Signatures of Status and Self, The Bead Museum, Washington, 2003.

Provenance: private collection, London.

Inventory no.: 4198 SOLD

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