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Rare Burmese Amber Bead Necklace
Mizo People, Mizoram/Assam, India or Western Burma
19th century

length: 112cm, weight: 166g

This superb Burmese amber necklace is among the finest examples we have seen.

It comprises long, cylindrical reddish-brown amber beads separated by amber and metal disks. There are some addition trade yellow and a green glass bead
at the top. Probably these have their origins in India.

The amber is known as burmite, a type of fossilised amber that originates in Burma's Kachin State, and which was known to the Chinese as early as the Han
period (206 BC-220 AD).

This type of necklace was worn by Mizo women in what is now Mizoram state, formerly part of India's Assam state. The Mizos prized Burmese amber for its
reddish-brown mottled colour.

Related examples are in Untracht (1997, p. 82).

The antiquity of the necklace is obvious, and yet it is in a stable and wearable condition. It is stung on native twine.

References:
Leurquin, A.,
A World of Necklaces: Africa, Asia, Oceania, America from the Ghysels Collection, Skira, 2003.
Untracht, O.,
Traditional Jewelry of India, Thames & Hudson, 1997.

Provenance: private collection, London.

Inventory no.: 4255

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A related Yemen necklace on display in the Islamic Art Museum Malaysia.
(Photographed February 2017.)