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General information

This Tribal Jewelry and Textiles Fair will be held in the beautiful restored church De Duif, Prinsengracht 756, Amsterdam. We present a special Fair which  will be an inspiration to stylists, interior-decorators and collectors.

For more information
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The neverending story of the beads

They are eye-catching, pleasant to touch and often appear to be miniature pieces of art on which experienced craftsmen have worked patiently for hours and sometimes days.

But even more fascinating is their story about the long journey they have made through time and across the globe: in these little mysterious objects the secrets of humanity can be found, its technology, spiritual, religious and cultural context and last but not least the trade routes that developed over the world over the course of thousands of years.
The bead was the first manifestation of human creativity about 40,000 (!) years ago, the second – namely the engraving of mammoth tusks - only developed 5,000 years later.

In the beginning, easily available natural products such as seeds, pips, flowers and feathers were used, which later became bones, teeth and claws. The discovery that the rotary motion could be used to manipulate objects meant an important step forward - man managed to make perforations into hard objects. But still: the manufacturing of just one neolitical quartz bead took on average three days! Approximately 5,000 years ago, by a rare coincidence, a blacksmith discovered that the silica-containing sand in its furnace, contaminated with plant ash and clay, clustered into a solid substance which was the first step in developing glass. A small step for this blacksmith, a huge step in the development of the bead industry!

From left to right: ancient fossils of sea urchin, used as beads; Yatim beads from Indonesia; Ceramic beads from Mali

As humans evolved, the story of the bead became more complex and the route from producer to consumer became longer.

There is a continuous line from the Prehistoric days where the hunter held a claw of a cave bear around his neck in the hope to assimilate the forces of the animal to the more recent times with labourers digging the raw material, transporting it, to the artisans working it and to the craftsman who made the final product. Where merchands came in to trade the beads before it in the end reached its final owner.

From left to right: Eye beads from the Middle East; Faience beads from Afghanistan; beads from Murano
Although beads are known mainly in their role as parts of jewelry and necklaces, this was of secondary importance in its long history, since very different values were assigned.
Beads played a major role as a spiritual object: for various ethnic groups protection, strength, fertility and prosperity were dependent on the possession of certain beads. Also, beads showed someone's social position, marital status and possessions, while other peoples used strings of beads as messenger, by stringing beads in a particular order. But probably the most important feature of the bead was that of means of payment, a function beads fulfilled from the early beginning to around 1930. Because of their long history, these small perforated objects have gained a special intrinsic value.

From left to right: Chevrons from Murano, circa 1860; Murano beads, about 1880; contemporary 'recycled glass' beads from Ghana
Pleasant to see and touch, durable, available in an endless variety and affordable: they are top collectibles - and you can wear them as well.