Soul lock

This pendant represents a fraction of the wide repertoire of silver jewellery made, worn and exchanged by highland communities in northern Thailand. Large neck rings were worn in tiered sets or with a chain and pendant known as a ‘soul lock'. This 'soul lock' with fine engravings can be found on Hmong embroidered collars.Silver jewellery was a way of investing a family’s wealth to be passed down as heirlooms. Hmong girls were given silver jewellery by their parents as bride wealth which ensured them of some independence and status in their new home. Silver is also regarded as having protective properties. Young children wear a silver neck ring with a ‘soul lock’ to protect them against illness. The pendant or ‘soul lock’ is believed to prevent the soul from leaving the body. Originally, highlanders from China, the Hmong recently have begun to move into northern areas of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Early 20th century
Northern Thailand
Object size: H0.6 x L8.5 x W5.5 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum