Nueva Cadiz Bead

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Object Name: 
Nueva Cadiz Bead
Accession Number: 
Overall W: 5 cm, L: 1.3 cm
Not on Display
probably 1500-1699
Credit Line: 
Gift of Elizabeth Harris
Web Description: 
The Nueva Cádiz bead is named for a location on an island off the coast of Venezuela, the first archaeological site where this type was found. The island was a Spanish port from the first half of the 16th century, and it is associated with Spanish exploration of North and South America. Nueva Cádiz beads are related to Venetian chevron beads because both are compound layered glass beads made with the same technique. Unlike the Venetian chevrons, the Nueva Cádiz beads have only three layers, usually consisting of a dark blue core, a white layer, and a bright blue exterior, although there are examples with red cores and additional exterior stripes. In form, they are squared tubes (although some are twisted in the drawing process to produce a spiral shape), and the exterior layer can range from bright turquoise to deep blue. The earliest Nueva Cádiz beads were found at various sites throughout North and South America in the 16th and 17th centuries. They are thought to have been brought by the Spanish and then traded into the inland areas of North America. The original place of manufacture for these trade beads remains a mystery, but they were likely produced in Bohemia or Venice. Beads of this type and quality were also being made in the Netherlands during this period. A later generation of these beads, dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, was probably crafted in Venice. These later beads are found in Africa. The Nueva Cádiz bead illustrated here is thought to have been found in South America. It displays the turquoise exterior layer and the untwisted, squared cross section that are typical for this type of bead.
Harris, Elizabeth, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Square, with hole in center, center color may be blue, cased with opaque white, outer casing is turquoise.
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. 31, no. 18; BIB# 134720