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Beads in the Middle East

Margaretologist 12(2) Middle Eastern Glass Beads: A New Paradigm
Plates here.


Man Makes His Mark: 7500 Years of the Seal

This book explores the connections between beads, charms and seals. It is the catalogue of the Center for Bead Research's collection of ancient Near Eastern seals. An ideal introduction to this field, with historical backgrounds.

Right: The oldest seal in the Center's collection dates to about 5500 B.C. It is of a gray stone carved on one side like the face of an animal. The other side, with its irregular geometrical lines shows that it was a seal of this class. The different line patterns on each seal apparently identified individuals.

Left: In Sasanian Iran (AD 224-642) agate stamp seals dominated, often with astrological devices. The left seal (#22) shows the constellation Orion with Canus Major (the Dog Star, the brightest northern star). In Zorastrian mythology, they are Gayomard, the proto-human and Yellow Ears, the primal dog, who guided Gayomard over the Bridge of Separation after he was killed.

The larger and much cruder seal (upper right #23) is common. I first proposed that it was not a seal as such, but a burial amulet to call Gayomard and Yellow Ears (now reduced to a few shallow scratches) to help the dead enter the afterlife. Several scholars now agree with this opinion.

Right: Seals tell us much about ancient beliefs. The original of this seal is in the National Museum of Pakistan from the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilization, ca. 2500 to 1700 BC. The Center has a unique aluminum cast of the original. This famous seals show Siva Pushapati, the Hindu "Lord of the Beasts." The yogi in the center is meditating, wears horns and is surrounded by animals. The links between Hinduism and the religion of the Harappans seem quite evident, though not all scholars agree.

1992, ISBN 0-910995-12-5, OPCBR 4, 23 pp., map, chart, 75 illustrations -- $6.00

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Third World Beadmakers

This book exploded the myth that glass beads were only made in a few places at any one time by presenting the production of beads in Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Left: The western Turkish glass bead industry was established by beadmakers from Hebron. They produced the same products for some years and the Tuks continue to make the famous "Evil Eye" beads.

1979, WBMS 3, ISBN 0-910995-02-8, 15 pp., 2 color plates, map, figures. -- $6.00

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Anatolske glasperler (Anatolian Glass Beads)

by Torben Sode (1996).

Exclusive Import: A hardcover book with a wealth of color plates documenting current Turkish glass beadmaking. The text in Danish, but the captions and a summary are in English. Francis first published this industry in Third World Beadmakers.

[Wholesale available]

73 pp., 105 color plates, 4 drawings, map. -- $24.95

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The following issues of the Margaretologist also have articles on beads
from the Middle East:

2(1) Early Neolithic Sites in Iraq. Russian Bead Trade in Alaska. Buy It

2(2) Asian Maritime Bead Trade ca. 1st to 12th Centuries. Buy It

2(3) Beads in Southeast Asia. Beads in the Islamic World. Buy It

3(1) Beads in Ghana: Arab Trade. European Trade. Teshi House. Powder-Glass. Buy It

4(1) Beadmaker, Beadmaker: Jablonex. Czech prisons. Hebron. American Beadmakers. Buy It

4(2) Some Thoughts on the Bead Trade (International Bead Conference II address) Buy It

8(1) Beads from a Wrecked Slave Ship. Beads from Medieval Old Cairo (Fustat). Buy It

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