String of 31 Beads

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Object Name: 
String of 31 Beads
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall L (closed): 42 cm; Smallest Bead Diam: 1.9 cm; Largest Bead Diam: 3.2 cm
Not on Display
Web Description: 
Islamic glassmaking built upon many of the Romans’ techniques and motifs. Islamic glass beads represent what is considered to be the final significant period of the beadmaking tradition that began in Western Asia in the second millennium B.C. Glassmakers in the Islamic world created masterpieces that included many innovative and distinctive forms of decoration. Beads with trails, such as these, were a continuation of a Roman technique, but the color, scale, and form were characteristic of the Islamic style. Trailed decoration is well known in Islamic glass. Trails were inlaid into the glass and then tooled to create patterns in feathered or geometric forms. These beads also utilize mosaic cane slices for eye motifs. The shapes of the beads with attached tubes can also be seen in larger Islamic pendants called Tawiz, which were usually made of metal or stone. They are thought to have held small pieces of paper with prayers or passages from the Qur’an that would protect the wearer from evil.
Smith, Ray Winfield (American, 1897-1982), Source
Primary Description: 
String of 31 Beads. Opaque black glass with inlaid thread decoration; surface of most of the beads dull and discolored, partly heavy pitting and weathering; molded or formed elements with multicolored thread decoration; the group consists of spherical (eleven) double conical tubular with attached second tube five spherical with deeply fluted sides as well as irregular shaped elements an tube shaped elements with attached flat part, most of the beads have a combed festoon pattern in red and white, some have a feather pattern in the same colors others have stripes as well as circular wheel motifs, again in the same colors; two of the four sided beads do not bear any decoration while the two others have wheel-like decoration, red and white; two irregular shaped beads include portions of turquoise blue glass.
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 from the Ancient World
Corning Museum of Glass 1957-06-04 through 1957-09-15
Glass Beads: Selections from The Corning Museum of Glass (2013) illustrated, pp. 22-23, no. 12; BIB# 134720
Beads: 3,500 Years of Glass Beads (2013) illustrated, p. 10 (fig 8, middle); BIB# AI93926
The History of Beads: from 30,000 B.C. to the present (1998) illustrated, p. 36; BIB# 69265
Glass from the Ancient World: The Ray Winfield Smith Collection (1957) illustrated, pp. 254-255, #517; BIB# 27315