Qing? Sorry, not possible.
Re: Re: Re: Chinese Prayer Strand -- napoleone Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/29/2021, 15:00:22

If these beads are Chinese at all, they would have to post-date the Qing Dynasty.

These appear to be lampwork beads with trailed decorations. They are well-made and uniform, for what they are. (The decoration being quite simple.)

In the Qing Dynasty, Chinese glass beads were furnace-wound. And there is no practical evidence that makers ever indulged in much artistic trailing. And certainly not of the commonplace caliber of any proficient industry—such as Venice (where lampworking was devised in the 15th C.)

It was not until the Boshan industry was initiated that lampworking was introduced as a beadmaking approach. And concurrent with that were the concepts of making decorations from preformed elements (for trailing and mosaic-glass productions), and the exploitation of these elements FOR trailing. All of this was clearly based on Venetian practices and products.

This may have originally been instigated by resident Germans (who were there to make beer for China, and perhaps for export). But, the industry probably "came alive" near the time of and during the Japanese Occupation of China—when they took over or opened new factories, with the goal of making "Japanese style" beads more cheaply than they could be made in Japan. Plus, we must remember that, in Japan itself, these were new innovations, copied after European and particularly Venetian practices.

Early intricate Japanese glass beads clearly copied Venetian designs, while also being or becoming/evolving into their own unique style.

It has been, and remains, my proposition that Chinese manufacturers (in China*) did not have much of a handle on glassworking (that is, beadmaking), and particularly trailing, until well into the 20th C. And the products from early Boshan demonstrate this very well. Their trailing is haphazard, and is little more than drizzling (and sometimes, combing). Though sometimes the results are effective.

It is only over the previous twenty (20) years that Chinese glassworkers have taken-up lampworking and trailing, on a HUGE level—and now have trained workers who can make nearly anything one can imagine. But this has been a remarkable change in their corpus of beads, and the numbers and varieties they manufacture.

Anyone viewing Chinese glass beads today would hardly guess that less than 100 years ago they would not and could not make the products that are everywhere today.

So, retuning to your question, I think it is impossible that the beads in your prayer strand could possibly be old Chinese beads. At best, they would have to be 20th C. beads from Boshan. But, in point of fact, I cannot compare them to any Boshan beads I know (in terms of shapes, colors, patterns, and artistry),

I have, however, seen a few Japanese beads that have trailed longitudinal lines, that MIGHT be from as early as late Meiji times. So, I could not exclude the possibility that your beads could be Japanese. But I also think this is less-likely than that the beads are rather more-recent. I am not confident that Japanese beadmakers composed matched sets of beads, that could be used in a long necklace or prayer strand construction. (It's possible. I just have not seen it.)

As always, it is difficult to discuss beads, based solely on photos. It is best to see these things in-person, and to have some time the think about them, contemplate, and actually view and understand their salient details.

The starred (*) comment above is necessary, because there is a side-issue of whether or not Chinese nationals OUTSIDE OF CHINA may have been glass-beadmakers (practicing elsewhere in SE Asia/Island SE Asia), who may have been more adept and capable of making beads with conventional trailing. This becomes an issue when we consider beads from Formosa and other ISEA locations, that are "Venetian-like" but also distinctly not Venetian. The late Peter Francis, Jr. claimed these were "Chinese beads." But based upon my knowledge of Chinese glass-beadmaking, I have very different ideas. The makers of these beads may have been "Chinese," but not practicing in China. They may have been Japanese. Or from some other not-recognized industry. But not from China-proper (without a lot of supporting information we don't have now).


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