How old are African trade beads?

African Trade Beads – The beads on this page vary in age, most greater than 25 years old. Historically, trade beads were used between the 16th and 20th century as a form of currency.

How old are trade beads?

The beads’ history dates to the 15th century when Portuguese trading ships arrived on the coast of West Africa to exploit its many resources, including gold, slaves, ivory and palm oil. At that time, glass beads were a major part of the currency exchanged for people and products.

What is the history of African trade beads?

African trade beads originated from Europe and were in the past used for trading purposes in Africa in the period between the 17th century and the early 20th century. Before the abolition of slavery, these beads were historically used by chiefs as currency in exchange for slaves, as well as gold and ivory.

What are African trade beads made of?

These beads were made of a variety of things including bone, glass, stone, and more. Glass was the most common material for these beads. West Africa was the best known region for using Trade Beads and often used them for high-class art projects and jewelry.

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Where do African beads come from?

Beads were first made in Africa from organic materials – like bone, shells and seeds – many thousands of years ago. In more recent times, imported glass beads dating back to the mid-11th century have been found in present-day South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Why did Indians trade for beads?

Most of the beads were made of glass, a material previously unknown to the Native cultures. They often replaced Indian-made beads of bone, shell, copper and stone. Beads were important for early trade items because they were compact and easily transportable.

How old are chevron beads?

Chevron beads are special glass beads; the first specimens of this type were created by glass bead makers in Venice and Murano, Italy, toward the end of the 14th century. They may also be referred to as rosetta, or star beads.

Where did beads originally come from?

The earliest known European beads date from around 38,000 BC, and were discovered at La Quina in France. The beads – made from grooved animal teeth and bones – were probably worn as pendants, and represent a time when homo sapiens were replacing Neanderthals and living more complex lives.

What do African beads symbolize?

Waist beads are a traditional African accessory that consist of small glass beads on a string or wire worn around the waist or hips. … In Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and other West African countries, waist beads are a symbol of femininity, fertility, sensuality, and spiritual well-being.

When were glass beads first made?

Glass beads were first created about 3,500 years ago in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and ever since glass bead designs and bead-making techniques grew increasingly complex. The ancient glassmakers were initially making glass from just three simple components – sand quartz, soda ash and limestone.

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How do you know if trade beads are real?

Look for signs of how the bead was crafted. If there is a seam, it appears perfectly smooth and symmetrical, or has a hole that is perfectly round, it is likely that the bead was manufactured by modern machinery.

What are African beads called?

Millefiori (thousand flower) beads from Venice, Italy were one of the most commonly traded beads, and are commonly known as “African trade beads.” They were produced by creating flowers or stripes from glass canes, that were then cut and moulded onto a core of solid color.

How were wampum beads made?

Women artisans traditionally made wampum beads by rounding small pieces of whelk shells, then piercing them with a hole before stringing them. … The unfinished beads would be strung together and rolled on a grinding stone with water and sand until they were smooth.

How do I identify African trade beads?

Those with uneven, or non-symmetrical patterns are more likely to be authentic. Modern stamping techniques tend to produce an even finish, with a pattern that “fits” the bead. Antique beads also tend to be hand-painted.

How many types of beads are there?

Types of Beads

  • Seed Beads.
  • Lampwork Beads.
  • Glass crackle Beads.
  • Pony Beads.
  • Sugar beads.
  • Acrylic fancy beads.
  • Ceramic Beads.
  • Wood beads.

What are Zulu beads?

Zulu beads were historically used as a language between men and women, to express their feelings, relationship status, or to convey a message on the appropriate behaviour expected from the opposite sex. … Two triangles joined at the points in an hourglass shape represent a married man.

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