The two bivalve shells (791 b and c), probably freshwater mussel, have a slight iridescent quality and are pierced from the convex side. They appear to have been ear pendants, but are atypical, since ear pins were the usual ear ornament during the Mississippian period.
Steven Hooper, 1997
Entry taken from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Vol. 2: Pacific, African and Native North American Art, edited by Steven Hooper (Yale University Press, 1997) pp. 298-299.
Note in the Sainsbury Centre archives suggesting the object was removed from a burial site at Holliston Mills, Hawkins County, northeast Tennessee, by Elmer Austin of the Tennessee Archaeological Society in 1968.
Purchased by the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia from Jonathan Holstein, New York, on the advice of Robert Sainsbury in 1981 out of income from the Sainsbury Purchasing Fund.
Not on display
Object Type: Bead
Measurements: h. 54 x w. 50 x d. 20 mm
Accession Number: 791c
Historic Period: Mississippian (c. 1300-1600)
Production Place: North America, Tennessee, The Americas, USA
Credit Line: Purchased with support from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, 1981