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Ancient Beads: India

India is the "mother of beads." She gets that honor because she is home not to one, not even two but three major bead industries whose products have been leaders in the global bead commerce. This is not to mention hundreds of smaller industries and a resurgent modern glass bead industry.

The most important beadmaking place ever is in India; it made both glass and stone beads for some 2000 years. The Indo-Pacific bead that originated in Arikamedu is the greatest trade bead of all time. Details of their production have been worked out. There are also analyses of these important beads.

The oldest beads in Asia are from India. India pioneered the making of hard stone beads. India was exporting lapis lazuli and carnelian beads and importing coral beads some 4000 years ago.

India and Sri Lanka were involved in the Indian Ocean Trade. This section details the trade, especially with Berenike, Egypt in Hellenistic and Roman times.

India is the home of darkened agate (gem onyx), many altered stone beads and etched carnelians, and probably dZi beads and other altered bead types. There were two stone bead industries, one located in western India and the other in the South. The Indians successfully hid the details of these industries from their best customer, the Romans.

We have several books on

Indian beads.


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