Tombodama (complex glass bead)

Object Name: 
Tombodama (complex glass bead)

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Object Name: 
Tombodama (complex glass bead)
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 1.4 cm, Diam: 1 cm; Bore Diam: about 0.2 cm
Not on Display
Credit Line: 
Gift of Dorothy Blair
Web Description: 
The Edo period in Japan (1603–1868) followed a time of conflict. The entrance of European influence and Christianity into the country during the Momoyama period (1573–1615), coupled with political warfare, led Japan to enforce an isolationist policy from the 1630s. Art was by no means abandoned, however. Indeed, it prospered and became more focused on traditional artistic forms. The manufacture of glass beads grew exponentially. They were used in many decorative applications, such as on combs, on curtains, and as the ojime (slide element) on the inro (a small purse for necessities, worn with the traditional costume). While there was a definite transfer of ideas between Europeans and the Japanese before Japan’s period of isolation, many of the beads created during this period were the work of Japanese beadmakers who may have learned techniques from the Chinese, or who may have seen European books on beadmaking. A large number of these beads are easily mistaken for Venetian beads or are frequently considered to be examples of façon de Venise (the Venetian style), but the Japanese beads are often superior in style and manufacturing technique. This tombodama (a bead with two or more colors) is a superb example of the work that was being produced by the makers of Edo-period glass beads.
Blair, Dorothy, Source
Primary Description: 
Tombodama (Complex Glass Bead). Opaque dark green, light green, yellow, red and white glasses; coiled, with pre-formed cane inserted as a horizontal band. Unusually complex delicate band inserted around waist, composed of a central light green thread running through two intertwined spirally looped threads of light green and yellow glasses; above and below this band, a horizontally inserted stripe of an opaque red thread flanked by opaque white threads; opaque pale yellow glass inserted at bore ends.
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. 24, no. 13; BIB# 134720
A History of Glass in Japan (1973) pl. 163, 4th row, center right; p. 405; BIB# 27425