Strand of Striped Beads

Object Name: 
Strand of Striped Beads

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Object Name: 
Strand of Striped Beads
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall (closed) L: 37.5 cm; Each Bead W: 2.1 cm, D: 1.2 cm
On Display
about 1900-1973
Web Description: 
The glassmakers of Bida, Nigeria, create beads, bracelets, and novelties that are unique in African glass beadmaking. The male glassworkers, known as the Masaga, are thought to have brought their craft, in the 18th century, from Egypt to Nigeria. There, they joined with the Nupe people. The beadmakers have developed a highly organized guild, including a leader and various teams of laborers, that makes the various glass products. The work is performed around a unique domed furnace, with the base dug into the ground. A hole at the top of the dome allows smoke to escape. The furnace is constantly fed by manually operated bellows. The glassmakers originally produced their own glass, called bikini, but with the advent of colonialism in the 19th century, they began to reuse bottle glass, which permitted a greater range of colors. One worker keeps the melted glass in a viscous state, while the others dip iron mandrels into the glass to pick up a gob that they quickly rotate and then form with a paddle. The decoration is produced by taking a thin strand of colored glass, melting it in the fire, and winding it around the exterior of the bead. The men work very quickly, making about 15 to 20 beads in one minute. This example is a good illustration of the type of glass beads crafted by the glassmakers, both in the paddled shape and in the clearly visible wound decoration in bright green.
Lamb, Alastair, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Strand of Striped Beads. Translucent brown, green glass; wound. Bicones with a green trail spiral.
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. 66, no. 41; BIB# 134720