Week 12/Drawer 12: March 22, 2017: “Legendary Heroes”
I do love carnelian. It is a semi-precious stone that is found in all shades of brown, almost every one tinged with orange. Now you know why I love it!
I probably say I love this or that bead in every blog. I suppose that’s why I’m still beading 23 years on!
Carnelian is a member of the Quartz family. It is considered the stone of creativity, individuality and courage.
This necklace started with the centerpiece, named a talhakimt. Over the years, I have purchased every interesting one I have seen and parcel them out into necklaces every few years. They are always based on the triangle/circle design. I have only one more truly interesting one left plus about 5 smaller ones that were originally men’s rings. The design feels very graphic and crisp to me; contemporary rather than ethnic.
Talhakimts such as this one were carved of large banded agate in the nineteenth century in Idar-Oberstein, a famous stone cutting center in Germany, a location that means more to bead nuts than the less-obsessed. They were favored by the Tuareg people, pastoral nomads who controlled several Sahara trading routes, and are descendants of the true Berbers who predated the Romans in their settlements. This rare talisman adorned Tuareg women’s hair. I found it interesting to learn the Tuaregs are a matrilineal society.
It is always a design challenge to figure out how to attach the unusual centerpieces, which I love to collect, to my necklace. From the get-go I knew this necklace would be pure carnelian: therein was the attachment answer. I found a bag with some very old carnelian (see above photo) which was also small in size. No two alike…all the better to see the varying colors of carnelian! Also notice their patina (wear)…visualize them a century ago in a Tuareg’s bag in a camel caravan travelling across the Sahara to a trading bazaar at the next oasis!
It should be no surprise that beads were money in many sociieties, from the Tuaregs to American Indians who invented heishi [pronounced “he she”], which are the small brass spacers used in this necklace. Our forebears, however, used shell as their money. Today heishi are any small round beads made by hand from natural materials.
The necklace itself is designed with highly polished carnelian nuggets separated by brass heishi.
This necklace is 23” long with a brass clasp. The talhakimt is 3”. Wear with your gold earrings. $99.