Re: "Roman" Glass Beads
Re: Roman Glass getting more sophisticated, are they for real? -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
10/29/2020, 04:08:43

Hello Luann,

When we get down to it, there is no real evidence that ANY of the beads in this greater family were actually made from "ancient" bangles and/or other recycled "ancient" glasses.

For all we know, the root story was entirely a scam.

Glass bangles have been a staple product in India for generations—because (as I have remarked previously), bangles serve the same purpose for married women as a wedding ring does in Europe and America. Married ladies wear bangles. If these are glass, and they break, the lady replaces them quickly, because that is a bad omen (for the husband!). She ceases to wear bangles when the husband passes on. So many women need many bangles in India. I do not know if the custom is the same in Pakistan—though it might be. And even if it is not, there may be bangle factories in Pakistan cranking-out bangles.

So what if the broken bangles (from use; or from not surviving annealing) are gathered together, and reworked into beads (?). These do not require being "ancient." Or, perhaps there is an "old broken bangle refuse heap" somewhere..., and perhaps these products have some age. (I bought two nice new export Indian bangles in the mid 1980s—and I still have one.) Or, perhaps they were made last week.

In any event, the story has grown thin, because after a few years, the new products no longer even resembled parts of bangles. And the glass itself looks very contemporary. Witness the beads you are showing here.

And I want to hasten again to say (as I have from the beginning), that almost any "old glass" is going to be called "Roman glass"—because that's a selling feature. Imagine how much glass can be dug up that is from 1,000 years later, from the Islamic Period, that is mistaken for "Roman glass"—which happened routinely with beads until three people came along and said "these beads are from later in time." (This would be me, Peter Francis, and Robert Liu.)

Contemporary beadmakers in Pakistan may be saying, 'why argue with success?' They have done very well with their fake story, for twenty-something years now.


Modified by Beadman at Thu, Oct 29, 2020, 13:34:10

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