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Bead Chat Line Picture Post

How to post a picture: Email me here and describe the picture. You must include the file size and the format (.jpg only accepted). Follow the instructions I give you in my return email.

Recent discussions on the chat line have been about how the "eyes" were made for "Turkish eye beads." I had said here that they were built up of progressively smaller eyes. Jürgen Busch, who has visited the beadmakers in the last few years, objected, saying that the eyes were made by simply layering glass onto the base bead.

Close-up of bead on the left. Donated by Lorraine Morton in 1996, she told me she had found this and other beads in "an old box." The other beads are so like those from Hebron on sample cards in two institutions that I believe them all to be from there. The nature of the "pupil" is clearly an indentation, not a small black spot.

Bead acquired by me at Gorece, the major beadmaking town in Turkey, in 1978. While the hole is clearly visible when you look at it, it does not scan well.

Another bead from the same source. The wound nature of the "eyes" and the depressions in the middle of them are more visible in this scan. Some but not all of these are actually tiny "beads," while these are "near-beads," being wound in the same way and carrying the black perforation deposit. They were done on the very tip of the mandrel and were not always perforated through.

In this bead the "pupil" is a spot of added glass, not the hole left over from winding the beads. Perhaps all Turkish eye beads are being made this way now (I haven't been back for decades since publishing a book in which I discussed the industry in 1979).

As always, I'd like to know more.

Beads discussed on the Chat Line by Kwabena, Beadman and myself.  I have to admit they are pretty funky. The ones in question are at the top and bottom. I think both are European and reheated (and perhaps manipulated) in West Africa. I think the top one was made by a bead like that below it, only with a very thin coat as the bead end-on is.

Kwabena believes these two beads were drawn in Nigeria. We await more evidence to indicate that.

Koli beads, the subject of recent chats on the Chat Line. These are drawn European beads that have been heated, most likely in Ghana. The heating causes air bubbles to break out from just under the surface of the glass and some other distortions.

Agate bead, bought in Bamako, Mali (West Africa) by Eric.


Eric writes [my comments in square brackets]

Hello, we recently acquired an intriguing agate bead necklace in Bamako. It consists of very flat losange shaped agate beads. The individual beads are up to 6.5 cm long and 5.5 cm wide and are less than a cm thick. They have nicely rounded edges and are perforated along the greatest length.

The perforations seem hand made considering their conical form. The agate is often quite beautiful with delicate colour zonations and has obviously been well chosen. I have found no reference to this kind of bead being made in India (lots of those on the market). Somebody told me they could be as old as 3000 years. Any clues ????? [Agree they are not Indian. They could be much younger.]

There are obvious recent imitations (sic) in babaghoria agate or some sort of carnelian. These are much smaller (biggest one I have is only 3 cm long), have squared edges and are far from being as well finished or elegant.

[These sound like Indian diamond tabulars, dating from Roman through early modern times. They were not necessarily imitations of these agate beads.]

The holes in the beads are maximum 4 to 4.5 mm wide for the largest beads and about 3 mm for the smaller beads. They are definitely conical, in the center of the bead they are probably not even 1 mm wide. I believe them to be handmade. [Nearly all perforations in stone beads are hand made.]

One about 5 cm losange agate beads shows the hole coming to surface on one of the sides of the bead. I don't what happened to the poor thing but with a hand lens I can not see distinctive markings on the inside of the hole.

[The conical holes indicate that the bead was not drilled with a double-tipped diamond bit, which has been in use in India for 2200 years or more. It would have been drilled with copper or wood (both using abrasive) or possibly a tougher stone, such as jasper.
These would not leave fine, concentric lines.]


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