Polynesian objects from early European exploration, £19.99
Length: 32.000 cm
Height: 6.000 cm
Room 26: North America
Abalone shell and glass necklace
Costanoan, 19th century
From California, North America
The necklace is composed of fourteen plaques of abalone shell attached to two rows of opaque white blown (?) glass beads - substitutes for shell beads. The plaques would have been made using a stone, saw-like tool, and the rough exterior ground away.
Discs and quadrangular plaques of red abalone were widely used for necklaces, and for pectorals, worn by people of high status in ceremonials. Like other shell ornaments, they were traded widely into the interior of California, and were considered both currency and stores of wealth.
J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)