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Margaretologist 1(3) Issue 3 1986

Research Tour to China, 1986

In 1986 I had just published Chinese Glass Beads: A Review of the Evidence.

After several years of research I concluded that China had, indeed, been a glass beadmaker for many centuries. This disagreed with what others had written, but the historical record, scanty as it was, did not lie.

By chance, I got the opportunity to visit China later that year. The visit confirmed and enlarged what the earlier work had discovered. It was, however, a couple of years later that the beads themselves could be recognized from their role in trade to Southeast Asia.

Here are a few interesting stops on that trip.

The jade market in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Beads galore of jade and other materials. Some of you will recognize this shot from the "Where in the Bead World Game?" here on the site.

Enameling, decorating metal with glass, is believed by scholars to have been introduced from Byzantium during the Yuan (Mongol) period (AD 1260-1368), though it did not become important until later.
The earliest surviving piece dates to the fifteenth century.An older dragon pin. Probably 19
th C.

One of my first stops was an enamel factory in Xian. After being shown the process, I asked for the name of the factory. My guide had me wait a minute and then came back with it written on a piece of paper: the Xian Enamel Factory. I probably could have figured that out myself.

There was no ivory for sale, and I was pleased to see that carving skills were being used on bone as a replacement.

And the Chinese are still making glass beads. The small ones are just like the coil beads they had been exporting for 1000 years or more.


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