Beads 20 (2008)
Heirloom Beads of the Kachin and Naga, by Barbie Campbell Cole
The heirloom beads of the Kachin and Naga – known respectively as khaji and deo moni – were discussed at length in British-colonial literature, but remained unidentified until the present day. The homelands of the Kachin and Naga straddle the northern Burma/Northeast India frontier. Safe from the great civilizations which rose and fell in the plains, the cultures of these hill peoples remained relatively intact until the arrival of the colonial British in the 1830s. The author’s research reveals that khaji and deo moni are orange Indo-Pacific beads of a type traded from southeast India – probably Karaikadu – between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200. They were found by the Kachin and Naga in ancient graves.
Beads from the Great White Arabia: A Mid-19th-Century American Steamboat, by Karlis Karklins and David Henneberg
Loaded with 200 tons of goods heading for Omaha, Nebraska, and Sioux City and Council Bluffs, Iowa, the steamboat Great White Arabia hit a snag and sank near Kansas City in 1856. In 1989, a group of salvors excavated the wreck and recovered almost the entire cargo which was in a remarkable state of preservation. Among the finds were several million glass seed beads, as well as several hundred blown specimens in various shapes, sizes, and colors, some of which formed the heads of fancy stickpins. Due to their fragility, blown beads are seldom found in archaeological contexts so the Arabia specimens are especially significant and comprise the largest collection of such beads found at a North American site. Coming from a tightly dated context, the beads reveal exactly what was being brought to a specific area of the American frontier in the mid-1850s.
Glass Beads from the Belbek IV Cemetery, Southwestern Crimea, by Ekaterina Stolyarova
Situated in the southwestern region of the Crimea, the Belbek IV cemetery was utilized for much of the first three centuries of the common era. A comparison of the morphological and technological characteristics of a select sample of the recovered glass beads has provided clues concerning their origins; the majority of the beads seem to have been manufactured in accordance with Syrian glassmaking traditions, a quarter belong to the Egyptian school of glassblowing, while just a little over one per cent were manufactured in Roman workshops. Judging from their burial contexts, it appears that beads in Late Scythian costume were used as buttons, amulets, and pendants, as well as in the preparation of necklaces and embroidery.
Red-on-White Drawn or Cornelian Beads: A 19th-Century Temporal Marker for the Plains, by William T. Billeck
The red-on-white drawn glass bead is an under-used 19th-century temporal marker for cultural objects and archaeological assemblages from Native American and fur trade sites in the Plains region of the United States. This bead variety is referred to as “cornelian” in Plains fur trade records, but is also known by several additional names in other places including cornaline d’Aleppo, cornaline, and corniola. By examining bead sample cards, historical references, fur trade ledgers, beaded cultural objects in museums, and beads from archaeological assemblages, it was determined that this bead variety first appears in the latter part of the 1830s in Plains ethnology and archaeological collections. Plains fur trade ledgers first refer to cornelian beads in 1837, and are common therein by the mid-1840s. These multiple lines of evidence provide a chronology for drawn red-on-white beads that is relevant for both the Plains and other regions.
The Venetian Bead Story, by Peter Francis, Jr.
With the possible exception of the Egyptian and Syrian beadmakers of Roman times, no glass bead producers have had as much influence on their contemporaries as those of Venice. Venetian beads have been sent all over the world and have for the last several centuries dominated the trade and tastes in the commodity. These beautiful products of Venice come in an amazing diversity of styles. It has been estimated that well over 100,000 different Venetian bead varieties have been produced and each year the numbers grow, for Venetian artisans are constantly turning out new kinds of beads for their customers. This article summarizes the history of the Venetian bead industry and also discusses its diverse products.
Book, Video and DVD Reviews in Volume 20
The Beads of St. Catherines Island, by Elliot H. Blair, Lorann S.A. Pendleton, and Peter Francis, Jr. (2009), reviewed by Rochelle A. Marrinan • Zulu Beadwork: Talk with Beads, by Hlengiwe Dube (2009), reviewed by Carol Kaufmann • Straits Chinese Beadwork and Embroidery: A Collector’s Guide, by Ho Wing Meng (2003), reviewed by Hwei-Fe’n Cheah • Chinese Sewing Baskets, by Betty-Lou Mukerji (2007), reviewed by Ghislaine Jackson • Middle Eastern and Venetian Glass Beads: Eighth to Twentieth Centuries, by Augusto Panini (2007), reviewed by Karlis Karklins.