Bodom Bead

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Object Name: 
Bodom Bead
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall W: 3.2 cm, D: 4.7 cm
Not on Display
Web Description: 
The powder glass technique is practiced in the production of glass beads in Ghana and Mauritania, West Africa. The beads are formed from the powder of crushed glass that is placed in a mold or shaped by hand into beads with a core. The beads are never heated to a temperature high enough to fully fuse the glass particles; instead, they are sintered, causing the molecules to bond only at the edge, where they touch. This explains the often rough and matte texture of the beads. A form of this technique may have been employed as early as the seventh to 13th centuries. The most significant and highly valued powder glass bead form found in Ghana is the bodom, which probably dates from the 19th century. Such beads are considered to hold great power and to be of old age; they are expensive and revered by West African cultures. The bodom is a large bead, constructed with a thin shell of usually yellow glass that encloses a dark core. It is decorated with one of a small variety of patterns, usually a cruciform shape or with eyes, as is seen in this example. The dark core of the bodom sets it apart from other powder glass beads. The core was constructed with a wet-core technique in which frit was bound with some sort of organic material. There is considerable debate concerning the type of organic material used as the binder. Initially, it was thought to have been saliva, which is still used where wet-core powder glass beads are made in Mauritania. However, we cannot answer the question with assurance, because bodom beads of the type shown here are no longer being produced.
Lamb, Alastair, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Bodom Bead. Yellow, black, red glass; Bodom type - large sphere with a yellow body on a black core; three large trailed eyes; outer ring in red, and inner in black with a central dot in black and red. Slightly impressed trail. Some of the yellow outer coat has chipped off revealing the inner black core.
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 of Ghana
Newark Museum
Tracing Eye Beads Through Time (2013-03) illustrated, p. 26, fig. 13, upper right; BIB# AI92488
Glass Beads: Selections from The Corning Museum of Glass (2013) illustrated, p. 39, no. 25; BIB# 134720
Beads: 3,500 Years of Glass Beads (2013) illustrated, p. 12 (fig 16, middle); BIB# AI93926
Life on a String: 35 Centuries of the Glass Bead (2013) illustrated, p. 8; BIB# AI94015
Glass Beads of Ghana (2008) illustrated, p. 2, top; BIB# 107119
Krobo Powder-Glass Beads (1976-04) illustrated, p. 33, fig. 4; BIB# AI14479