107 Drawn Beads

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Object Name: 
107 Drawn Beads
Accession Number: 
75.1.20
Dimensions: 
Overall L (closed): 11 cm, Th (max): 1 cm; Smallest Bead H: 0.1 cm; Largest Bead H: 0.5 cm
Location: 
Not on Display
Date: 
about 200 BCE-400 CE
Web Description: 
Indo-Pacific beads are small (D. 3–5 mm) and nondescript in style, but they were the most widely traded of all beads. Examples have been found from Ghana to China. These beads were made in various shades of opaque red-brown, orange, yellow, green, and blue, and in such semitranslucent colors as green, blue, and amber. They were first produced in Arikamedu between the years 200 B.C. and A.D. 400, probably by a unique drawing method that is still employed at one beadmaking site in India. This intensive manufacturing process employs unique tools and a specially made furnace from which long tubes are drawn by hand for hours and broken into manageable lengths. The tubes are then cut into the small beads, and most of them are heated while packed in ash to remove the sharp edges. Such reheating can lead to the fusing of some beads to others, which may have occurred in this example (two of the blue and black beads have become attached). These beads were mistakenly named “trade wind beads” because they were found in sites around the Indian Ocean. It is now known that their distribution was much wider, and they have been given the more accurate name of Indo-Pacific beads.
Department: 
Provenance: 
Lamb, Alastair, Source
1975-03-31
Category: 
Primary Description: 
Small glass beads, mainly blue but some black, including doublets (i.e., beads fused together into pairs).
Venue(s)
Corning Museum of Glass 2013-05-18 through 2014-01-05
For 30,000 years, mankind has crafted beads from natural materials. With the discovery of glassmaking in the second millennium B.C., glass began to be used for this same purpose. Glass beads are universal. They have been produced throughout the 35 centuries of glass manufacturing, and by nearly every culture in the world. The glass beads and beaded objects on view in this exhibition are arranged thematically, comparing the manner in which diverse cultures have utilized beads, frequently for the same purposes, but sometimes for unique reasons. These themes explore how glass beads adorn the body and our possessions; how they convey messages about power and wealth, and identify the stages of human life; how they serve ritual purposes, as well as decorate clothing and objects used in rituals; and how they have been employed across the centuries as a means of exchange, both commercial and cultural. Through the centuries, beads have been made using a variety of processes. Understanding how beads were made has allowed scholars to follow the transmission of beads and beadmaking techniques across the globe. Across time and around the world, glass beads have become a common element of mankind. Through their manufacture and function, they are one of the strings that bind humanity together. “Life on a String” celebrates this common bond while also revealing the distinctiveness of different societies through their use of glass beads to celebrate their unique cultural heritage.
Glass Beads: Selections from The Corning Museum of Glass (2013) illustrated, p. 17, no. 8; BIB# 134720