Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why Are We So Fascinated With Beads?

Have you ever wondered where this fascination (or bead addiction) comes from? I have a theory! Beads play a significant role in cultures all over the world, and are an important part of history.

In his book, The Dawn of the Human Culture, archeologist Randall White of New York University, indicated over 30,000 years ago the creation of beads required a great deal of time and effort, implying profound symbolic meaning. White claims a single bead typically took one to three hours to craft.

In Russia, 3,000 beads were discovered in an adult male grave; and 10,000 beads were found in the graves of two children. (Remember, a single bead required as much as three hours to craft, meaning this collection of beads could easily have taken as much as 39,000 hours to create, or five years!) The large numbers of beads are thought to signify that the children buried in the graves were of special status in their society.

A handful of fragile ostrich eggshell beads were excavated from a Kenyan site called Twilight Cave, established 40,000 years ago. According to writer Mitchell Leslie, “…they appeared to be the earliest known jewelry. But some anthropologists think they are much more. The people of the Twilight Cave may have exchanged them as ritual gifts or tokens making them the oldest known example of symbolism. …” (Mitchell, July-Aug. 2002)
The ancient Egyptians used beads as a means of bringing luck, dating back to 3,200 B.C.; Native American beadwork honors their spiritual ancestors; African history reveals beads were used as a form of communication and in rituals evoking the power of gods; Hindus used prayer beads for counting breaths and repeating mantras; Buddhist bead practices served to attain enlightenment; Islamic bead practices helped Muslims praise Allah.

Discovering how our ancestors around the world gave purpose and meaning to their beads helps provide remarkable insights into our continued fascination with beads.

Click here for more bead facts!

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely fascinating! I think the love of beads is in our genetic make-up! LOL!