Posted 10 years ago
Many of you will find this item in a catagory that you feel inapproriate. I was unable to find a suitable catagory for Afrikan items, and chose what was the closest appropriate catagory. This IS fine traditional Afrikan jewelry, and thus listed under fine jewelry. The only ethnic catagory is Native American unfortunately.
This is considered a chiefs' necklace. It symbolizes two opposing armies of warriors represented by the clusters of cowry shells. The other elements are bauxite, the brown stone from which aluminum is extracted, and a major export of Ghana, Fala brass components and thermal plastic/bakelite (yellow).
The cowry shell was the first universal form of currency on the Afrikan continent, and though it eventually was supplanted by other forms of currency its importance as a symbolism of wealth remained for a long time to come. It still holds an important and symbolic role in many Afrikan cultures. Among the Kuba of the Congo, the royal garment is entirely encrusted with cowries. These days, however, the chief rarely wears it in its entirety due to its enormous weight.
The Fala, also known as the Kirdi, of Kamerun, West Afrika, are known to create a wide variety of brass objects in the form of beads and amulets, the brass bell is just one of many types coming from them.
Thermal plastic beads in the 1960s were commonly referred to as amber or copal. Their color was typically butterscotch, and traditionally worn by amber wearing Afrikans, who unlike western consumers distinguished the difference between real amber and the British thermal plastic/bakelite. The British produced thermal plastic in canes for export to Afrika. It was traded in many regions. It is not difficult to discern the region in which these canes were traded by the manner in which the locals cut and fashioned the canes into beads, and the surface treatment of the beads.