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SOLD: Mali Spindle Whorl Necklace, Red Black White Yellow Recycled Glass Necklace

This necklace features large yellow African recycled glass discs strung in high quality leather around vintage Mali "Spindle Whorl" trade beads. The center bead is a large spindle approx. 2.6 cm in diameter and the other six similar spindle beads in the necklace are approx. 1.7cm wide. These have beautiful geometric designs hand incised in Mali. Centuries ago spindle whorls were used in the cotton-making industry. It is still a mystery how and when they were repurposed as beads and used in jewelry. Experts guess that it started when they were traded extensively with North African merchants between the 17th and 19th Century.
One of the key features of these clay spindle whorls is their amazing durability. The durability comes from the black charcoal clay used in the making of these. Broken pieces of old clay pots are often also reground into the clay to create these spindles. In addition to being a proof of the resourcefulness of the artisans, the old pots add to the strength of these spindles. The clay is then mixed with water and Gum Arabic (Acacia Gum) and shaped into bi-conical spindles. Nails or small sticks are used to create the geometric incised designs on these beads. The beads are sun-dried for many days before being fired. After cooling, they are dipped repeatedly into a whitewash created using ground shells until it brings out the white on the incised drawings. It is a long and laborious process and makes one appreciate the beauty of these spindles as pieces of adornment.

The seven spindle whorls are accompanied by bright red ancient glass beads from Nepal, opaque white lampwork glass pumpkin beads and bronze disc beads.

The necklace measures approx. 19.5 inches from end to end and closes in a strong bronze clip hook clasp.

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