Re: Islamic Period Beads
Re: Re: Re: Islamic PERIOD? -- KANANA Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/27/2019, 03:12:21

Thank you for the clarification.

I now understand that you want to know whether the beads you have are antique beads from Hebron (typically coming to us from Nigeria, and formerly called "Kano" beads), versus a possible earlier origin from Western Asia/Egypt. Is that an accurate appraisal of your question?

There is a naming issue that comes into play. "Islamic Period beads" is a phrase I use to describe beads made ca. 1,000 years ago (+ or -), as opposed to "Roman Period beads" that date from 2,000 years ago (+ or -). The Islamic Period beads, in an African context, come to us mainly from Mali—though for decades they were said to be "Roman." And, in fact, it is due to my efforts (as well as the late Peter Francis. Jr.), that their correct time of origin has been promoted.

I regard the Islamic Period, in terms of glass beadmaking, to have ended in CE 1400—due to the destruction of the Western Asian glass industries by Tamerlane; at which time Venice stepped in and began to provide glass beads that were exported abroad, including Western Asia—thus initiating the Modern Period of glass beadmaking.

Nevertheless, from the perspective of people who reside in Asia and elsewhere, who practice the Islamic faith—in their opinions, "The Islamic Period" persists. I understand this perspective, though, from the standpoint of glass history, it is not a useful proposition.

So, the upshot is, some people will regard glass beads made at Hebron (most-likely less than 200 years ago) as "Islamic beads." From my perspective they are not that. But we live in a world where different perspectives should be respected. So, it is difficult (for me) to tell you your beads are or are not "Islamic." And, in fact, from a single photo I cannot even make an educated guess.

As I said previously, as early as 1974, ancient Egyptian beads, that are black with multi-colored splotches, were shown (in The Bead Journal), with the admonition that it is very difficult to date these sorts of beads—because similar beads were made over a very long period.

If your beads were recovered in Mali from Niger River occupation sites, there is a good chance they are from the Islamic Period. The cylindrical beads seem to be ancient, judging by their surface characteristics. But I am not familiar with these beads from Mali. The black beads are much harder to determine (from a single photo that is not close), because there ARE similar beads from Hebron that are not ancient.

This is about all I can say. Jamey



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