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|Re: Re: PEME RIKA'S -- Tofsla||Post Reply||Edit||Forum||Where am I?|
First of all, we can estimate that the time of pema raka beads goes back to the Ming Dynasty (based on the fact that the Chinese carved this carnelian for themselves—and they were most-likely the makers of pema raka beads. This would make them at least 300 years old, and possibly older.
The great exportation of Mediterranean red coral to Tibet (via India) is probably less than 200 years old as a commercial enterprise. (This is not to say that Med. coral was not exploited before this time. This is the time of the industry that still exists in Naples, and remains the primary source for the world's gem-quality red coral.)
Here's a given. Most people anywhere in the world like the color red, and seek to have red ornaments. For 5,000 years, and since then, carnelian has provided that need. This was true in Europe, W. and E. Asia, Central Asia, the Himalayas, India, and South America. (Another material was red or reddish mollusk shell—also used by North Americans. Red mollusk shell is a very coral-like material.)
When quantities of coral became available, these beads supplanted the use of carnelian, to some degree. Tibetans and American Indians, in particular, fell in love with red coral.
So far from being a "substitute for coral," red coral became a substitute for carnelian. Nevertheless, it is easy to suppose that pema raka beads remained popular among some Tibetans, for certain purposes. (It is said that they were used as "hair beads"—and I have no reason to doubt that. They were also incorporated into prayer bead strands—thinking of the oblate and melon-form pema raka beads.)
In today's market, pema raka beads command high prices. And they are even imitated in glass; and are reproduced from what seem to be the original mines in Yunnan.