Some Useful Generalizations
Re: Bead ID help please? -- lindabd Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/30/2019, 00:47:29

In the arena of ancient glass beads in Indonesia:

In antiquity Middle Eastern glass beads passed into Eastern Asia via Island SE Asia. Although it has been said that they were "inbolved" in the Spice Trade, it is likely that beads were not "traded for spices," but rather were perks. Beads were given or included when deals were made. Consequently, we will find Middle Eastern glass beads in ISEA.

At some point, we can surmise, Middle Eastern glassmakers/glassworkers emigrated to ISEA, and took up working there. (I suppose there were too many people working glass in the ME, and decisions were made to "cut out the middlemen," and go to the regions where beads had become popular. This happened similarly in Scandinavia as well.) Emigrant glassworkers then made beads that were essentially the same as those they made at home. (Technically speaking. It is possible and likely that local glassmaking differed from ME glass, in terms of raw materials. My comments relate to techniques and styles.)

Then, as happens over time, those glassworkers evolved into their own idiom of beadmaking. Their new products harkened back to those of previous generations, but also had specific differences. The two main types of jatim, millefiori beads and combed beads have antecedents in ME beads; but differ from them in being derived from hot-pinched decorated cane (or cane-like) constructionsówhereas ME beads were much more often individually-made, being wound or rolled-pad beads. Nevertheless, we can see remarkable similarities if we compare components; i.e. the actual millefiori canes.

All this is explained in my book, Magical Ancient Beads (1998). It is my opinion that there are, essentially, three classes of beads in Indonesia (and wherever these beads were traded to) that are: 1) Middle Eastern beads, 2) Javanese-made beads that are like ME beads; and 3) the unique jatim that evolved from ME bead styles.

To answer Linda's question, the green/yellow mosaic-glass beads could be either types 1) or types 2). One may wonder if a chemical analysis would distinguish between them (?). By the way, most of these beads are hot-pierced beadsóbeing derived from solid mosaic-glass cane pieces, that were heated and pierced. Some are pierced longitudinally and some across thir girths.


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