String of 21 Millefiori Beads

Object Name: 
String of 21 Millefiori Beads

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Object Name: 
String of 21 Millefiori Beads
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
73.3.93 A
Overall (closed) L: 54 cm; Average Bead L: 5.3 cm, Diam: 1.4 cm
Not on Display
Web Description: 
Some of the myriad millefiori beads produced by the Venetians included designs that were modeled after ancient Roman beads. The use of only a few scattered cane slices as the decorative motif has been seen since Roman times. During the Islamic period, individual mosaic cane slices were often employed to create eye motifs, while beadmakers also crafted mosaic beads by covering a matrix in cane slices. Islamic beads were probably eye beads, in the sense that the eyes were thought to provide protection against or to deflect the “evil eye.” It is unlikely that the Venetians were making beads for their apotropaic quality, but they may have been so employed by the cultures to which they were traded, especially this version with isolated murrine. While this example seems to recall the ancient history of the mosaic technique and style, it is wholly modern in its use of a curved shape of bead, which is not found in ancient predecessors. The curved shape was probably an invention of 19th- or 20thcentury Venetians to increase their repertoire of mosaic and millefiori styles.
Lamb, Alastair, Source
Primary Description: 
String of 21 Millefiori Beads. Millefiori - white curved longitudinal cylinders with black core; isolated millefiori.
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.
Tracing Eye Beads Through Time (2013-03) illustrated, p. 25, fig. 11, middle right; BIB# AI92488
Glass Beads: Selections from The Corning Museum of Glass (2013) illustrated, p. 35, no. 22; BIB# 134720