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BEADS....those perforated little beauties that intrigue us so! Defined several ways:
from the Anglo-Saxon "bidden, to pray, to tell ones' bedes." Any small
or rounded component with a hole in it - or - a small, ball-shaped
piece of glass, metal, wood, or other material pierced for stringing or
1995 I wrote the following overview on beads for the appreciation
reception for the founders of The Northwest Bead Society.
prehistoric times to the present day, beads have been employed by many
people for many purposes. Often used to denote social position, wealth
or the achievements of the wearer, beads, by their size, type, quantity
and colors, can have powerful tribal importance. There have always been
people who value special bones, stones, shells, seeds and beads for
their magical qualities. By incorporating beads into the cultural
fabric of their lives, native people worldwide have given us a
marvelously textured view of history.
the ages, the skill of bead makers and the demand for their artwork has
led to these tiny treasures becoming an important ingredient of world
trade. Used in an abacus or as items of barter, the value of beads in
business has been immeasurable. As though they were road signs, beads
are used by archaeologists to trace the spread of population and
trading routes of ancient tribes and ethnic peoples. To this day, it is
hard to find an ethnic group that does not give spiritual, religious,
or tribal importance to beads.
as ancient artifacts or contemporary jewelry, the ubiquitous bead has
always had a fascinating appeal to humans. Beads, their creation,
cultural meaning, trade and business significance, as well as
decorative and ornamental uses can be a very satisfying study subject.
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