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Chimú Spondylus Shell and Green Stone Necklace

Chimú Spondylus Shell and Green Stone Necklace

Regular price €420,00
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Pre-Columbian era, Chimú culture, c. 800-1470AD, Moche Valley, Trujillo, Peru.

Outstanding and very beautiful long necklace constructed with hundreds of beads carved from spondylus shell, green stone and turquoise. These ancient disc-shaped beads (known as chaquiras), strung on cotton cord in modern times, have beautiful variations of color ranging from salmon, black, beige and violet to intense dark green, was originally part of elaborate pectoral, and worn as a type of necklace covering the chest.

Spondylus, a marine bivalve, also known as "thorny oyster", held important ceremonial and ritual significance to many of the prehistoric cultures in the Americas, with trading of the highly prized beads and shells extending into Chile as well as North America. Spondylus is found in the tropical waters off the coast of what is now Peru’s northernmost territory, but more commonly it was harvested off the coast of Ecuador and points farther north. Known as ‘Mullu’ or 'Muyu' by the Incas, spondylus were symbols of elite status, abundance and land fertility for many Pre-Columbian cultures. Referred to as "the daughters of the sea, the mother of all waters," these sacred shells were stored in springs, wells, and other sources of water to ensure a continued supply of life-giving water. Spondylus valves were also placed in tombs, and used as ceremonial offerings in agricultural fields in the hope of promoting an abundant harvest. These shells were more valuable than gold or even silver, and became known as ‘red gold’. 

Excellent condition. Wearable. Wear consistent with age and use. Necklace measures 72,0cm long. Individual bead size varies from 0,3cm to 1,8cm. 

Provenance: Finnish private collection.

References and further reading:

The Spirit of Ancient Peru: Treasures from the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera, Katherine Berrin and Larco Museum, New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.

Red Gold – A Story of Sacred Shells, Stories from the Museum Floor, Manchester Museum, June 22, 2018. (

Thorny Oysters: The Daughters of the Sea, Joanne Pillsbury, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, August 22, 2016. (

Chimú, Encyclopedia of Prehistory, Melvin Ember & Peter N. Peregrine (eds), Vol. 7 : South America (1 ed.), Springer, 2001.

"Spondylus in South American Prehistory" in Spondylus in Prehistory: New Data and Approaches, Benjamin Carter, Ed. Fotis Ifantidis and Marianna Nikolaidou, BAR International Series 2216, Oxford: Archaeopress, 2011: 63-89.

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  • Shipping

    The shipment will be prepared in the course of 3-5 days and dispatched via Posti Group Oyj or purchased item(s) can be picked up from our shop during the store's opening hours (Tarkk’ampujankatu 4, 00140, Helsinki, Finland). Within the Finland, all items are shipped via Posti Group Oyj unless otherwise requested. We pack the items carefully and mainly in recycled materials because we want to save nature. You will receive the tracking number for your items by e-mail.

  • Returns

    Returns and exchange will be accepted within fourteen days (14) of receipt at the purchaser’s cost to include freight and packaging. Items must be returned in the same condition as when they were shipped, and will not be accepted if damaged or altered in any way. Please inform us via email ( or by calling +358408408352 before sending. We do not accept returns more than 14 days after delivery.