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The original material for the hair pipe choker we see most often made of bone today was shell. Conch, clam, and also wampum were carved into a tube shape with tapered ends and fashioned into chokers and breast plates, the purpose of these was to protect the wearer from physical harm by providing an armor for the vital areas of the chest and neck. Shell was replaced by bone around 1880, bone was much more widely available to all tribes whereas shell was only available through trade from coastal areas, bone was most probably a tougher material and offered greater protection. I have been making bone chokers for many years and always wanted to make some of the first material, shell hair pipe is hard to locate but I finally found a source for this beautiful white clam shell beads.
The hair pipe choker is worn by many today to show that you can trust what the person wearing it has to say. It is said that the choker will “choke” or tighten up on a person who is not being truthful, in this way a choker made in the right way provides spiritual protection of the voice and gives the wearer the ability to speak from the heart. After I finished this choker I thought what a wonderful choker this would be for a wedding ceremony to be worn by the bride or groom.
The shell beads are a creamy vanilla color with caramel and shiny mother of pearl effects. I’ve had this special vintage gorget for quite a while and it just seemed to belong here with the shell hair pipe. I purchased it here on Etsy in May 2010 and here is what the seller said about it
“This is a carded abalone button by Schwanda. It is in mint condition, and the card is in very, very good shape! Lots of color in this beauty. Shades of lilac, rich blues and greens and hints of plum and incredible flashes of fuchsia! I have tried to photograph it from several angles to show the wonderful inner glow of this button. It measures a nice large 1 5/16 inch in diameter. It is rough in texture on top and has a wave in it, following the natural line of the shell.”
It is perfectly suited to this choker, I believe this is my most special and beautiful choker yet. The shell hairpipe beads measure 1” L and are accented by brass corrugated beads and white heart beads that are clear glass drawn and wound around a white glass center, these hard to find treasures are also old handmade beads. I was lucky enough to come across these at a recent Pow Wow. These are lovely in their own right and the perfect paring for this choker. These beads are approximately 7X5mm.
This choker will fit from 14.5" diameter neck size and up, measuring 14.5" L from where the leather ties at the back of the neck to 1.5" H. The brass corrugated metal beads are 6mm. The leather ties are 11" L. This is a five strand choker. It is finished with white deerskin which is all hand cut and super soft making this a very comfortable necklace to wear.
This unique choker is unisex and would look great on anyone.
This choker will be carefully wrapped and shipped in a USPS priority mail flat rate box
Thank you so much for looking. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.

If you would like to learn more about the history of hairpipe my friend has a very interesting story about it on his blog, you can visit it here:

Traditional clam shell hair pipe choker with french brass