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Heirloom Beads

In most industrialized societies heirlooms are informal things, something nice passed between generations. In many traditional societies they are closely regulated because they ultimately belong to the whole group rather than to any one person.

The term "heirloom bead" has been widely employed, but they were never really studied until I investigated the heirloom beads of 14 traditional groups in Southeast Asia.

This was published in
Heirlooms of the Hills. Later, I compared societies in other parts of the world and published them in the Margaretologist: Africa in 5(2) and Mexico in 7(2).

On The Bead Site is a page explaining the Basics of Heirloom Beads, a page of heirloom beads from the Kayan of Sarawak (East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo), the Bontoc of the northern Philippines, the Rungus of Sabah (East Malaysia) and the T'Boli of the southern Philippines (the last two written by Bucklee Bell).

There is also a gallery of the
money-beads of Palau (an island in the Pacific) and a discussion of the lingling-o, an ancient heirloom shape used in Southeast Asia and adopted as our logo.


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