Imitation of Bodom Bead

Object Name: 
Imitation of Bodom Bead

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Object Name: 
Imitation of Bodom Bead
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall W: 2.1 cm, D: 3.3 cm
Not on Display
Web Description: 
European companies that distributed African trade beads were probably well aware of the taste for certain types of beads and of beads produced by Africans. West Africa was an important trade location for many Venetian and Bohemian beads, but it also produced its own unique beads using the powder glass technique. The most important of these African-made beads are the bodom (73.3.351) and the akoso (73.3.347). These beads were considered to be sacred and powerful, and the importance attached to them must have been noted by companies distributing European-made beads. European examples have been found that, in both form and decoration, imitate African beads, especially the bodom. The telltale sign that these beads were crafted in Europe is the bright yellow color, which is often a much more vibrant shade than is found in the African made bodom. The surface of the European imitations is often smoother, with trailed decoration that is much more sharply defined than the sometimes fuzzy elements seen on their African counterparts. This bead exemplifies the Venetians’ attempt to imitate the African bodom. The shape and size are reminiscent of the bodom and have been found on other European imitations. The yellow is extremely bright, and the surface is quite smooth. The decoration, which is not an exact copy of African works, similarly uses layers of colored glass to create a linear motif. The eyespot is often seen on African-made beads, but this eye consists of a chevron cane slice with extra trailing. The bead certainly suggests that Venetians were copying or imitating the style of West African beads in an effort to meet the demands of that market.
Lamb, Alastair, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Imitation of Bodom Bead. Yellow, grey, red, white, blue glass. Sphere, yellow oblate, grey around the perforation and opaque yellow body with alternate three longitudinal stripes of red, white, blue and white canes with three eyes which appear to be made from sections of "old type" Chevrons.
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. 41, no. 27; BIB# 134720