African art > Jewelry, ornament > African necklace
Necklace made up of forty-nine blue beads strung on a raffia cord, these jewels having once served as currency.
Beads of this type, in molten glass, would come from Venice (Murano) in particular, but also from other European countries such as Czechoslovakia. From the 14th century, they were exchanged on the African continent for various goods: gold, ivory, etc. Jewelry could also be part of the dowry.
Symbolizing wealth, pearls also refer to lives depending on a whole. In black Africa, clan chiefs held necklaces symbolizing the clan, each pearl a family.
Among the Baluba, pearls were placed in the hand of the deceased so that he could afford his pass into the afterlife.