Antique Guatemalan chachal necklace, circa 1890 – 1900.

In Quiche, an indigenous Guatemalan or Mayan language, chachal means necklace. These necklaces have been worn since pre-Columbian times. At the time of the Spanish Conquest, Guatemala’s prized red coral was the chief component in most necklaces. As easily recoverable near-shore coral became scarce, trade beads, usually red, from as far away as Venice and the Middle East, were introduced to Guatemala. In Spanish colonial times, wearers added silver coins, a symbol of wealth and status. Many chachales incorporate crosses, amulets, and figures re cast from silver colonial coins.

Each necklace is unique and has a story. Most have been re-strung many times, adding coins and precious beads in prosperity, removing precious silver in times of need. They were traditionally passed down in families, each generation adding or rearranging the precious components. Some have been completely restrung; some have had pieces taken away and new pieces added to the original piece.

This necklace is 28 -” long, with a variety of beads. Some appear to be coral or glass, other are an unknown material. There are 14 coins, most very worn, with dates from the late 1800's. The cross measures -2 ” x 1 1/2”--.It tests as approximately 75% silver, less than sterling. The cross is set with a faceted green stone, which is likely glass. Several of the coins are depicted close up. Additional photos can be made available.

The former owner has been in possession of this necklace for about 50 years. It has been restrung in modern times and the filament cord is secure. The ring clasp works well, though the necklace can easily be slipped over the head.

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J - 1910
Ethnic, Tribal


Antique Guatemalan Chachal Necklace, circa 1890 – 1900.


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