The owner is my good friend Karen, who lived in Mauritania for 7 years and those little hangers are amber. Karen is a beadaholic, espec. ancient beads and Mauritanian beads. I'll check again with her, but I would be surprised these are anything else but amber.
Although kiffa are not my preferred beads I personally think this is a fantastic necklace and design.
This is what my friend Karen had to say:
"amber and resin beads from old 'chapelets'
sizes Kiffa beads varying:
in hight from 3 to 7 mm and width from 5 to 9 mm
total length necklace: 80 cm, containing 31 kiffa beads
lapiz, amber, resin, Kiffa beads and hammered gold beads (Mauritania)
assembled in 1999 in Nouakchott
during my 7 year long stay I never had the chance to stumble upon smaller beads than those in this necklace....."
She wonders where you could find such extra small kiffa beads and would love to see pictures.
By the way, she even named her cat Kiffa.
Thanks for the additiuonal information. Sweet that you friend called her kitty "Kiffa". Maybe she should rename her/him "Muraqat", as I prefer to call Mauritanian powderglass beads, though I used both names here, for reasons not to be misunderstood.
I propose we change old habbits and call the beads Muraqat ("The Colorful")- their real name (we should also say "FIORATO" and not "Wedding Cake" beads, in my opinion) in Mauritania, their place of origin. My main argument for a change is the fact that their name "Kiffa Beads" is not precise by any means. Muraqat have been made all over the country - but not (in the city of) Kiffa. 95% of Mauritanians have been nomadic herdsmen, walking their lifestock from maedow to maedow, according to seasonal rainfall (that was all to often missing consecutive years in a row, leading to a complete downfall of ancient traditions - incl. the tradition os making and wearing Muraqat). They were not stationed in a single place and definitely not in Kiffa, as my research in the country has proven.
It has been French Ethnologist-Historian Raymond Mauny who was the first to report about Muraqat. He met a woman OUTSIDE OF KIFFA (!) who was in the process of making the beads. Mauny did not call the beads "Kiffa Beads". It has been late Howard Opper and his wife to give the beads their collector's name "KIFFA BEADS", when searching for a title of their booklet on the beads, ca. 1990.
Old habits die hard - as we all know. I hope I'm not being dogmatic when proposing the use of the word Muraqat (Moo-Ra-Cut >phon.) as the better choice!
It is always hard to make an evaluation (of beads in this case) based on photos alone. It`s a gamble to do it and we better don't. Sometimes we have no choice and "must" do it, when the onl other option is keeping mouth shut, saying nothing.
That said, you have to take my words with a few grains of salt.
I am rather certain the "amber" on that Muraqat-Lapis strand you have shown us are actually (phenolic) "resin" (hoping I am using the right terminology, Rosanna...!?). Certainly the little pendants are, while some real (German/Polish/Russian) amber beads might be among the round pieces. But even this is doubtful, considering the photo alone.
Yes, it is some nice necklace, if we want to wear the beads as such. Traditionally Muraqat were hair-ornaments, and, to a lesser extent bracelet beads for only 2 (shape) kinds of the Muraqat family. Hemispheric and lozenge shapes (in blue, red and polychrome - the blue variety in over 100 different designs - each design representing another individual artist).
As a traditionalist (especially when it comes to Muraqat) I am generally not really fan of turning the beads into wearable jewellery. Just a personal preference, based on some possibly weird kind of respect for the original makers.
Still - just last year I did the very same, when I designed a Muraqat-pendant for my wife's and mine 10 years marriage anniversary. Should I find the photo, I will post it. I guess the production of this piece makes me some kind of hippocrit, given what I just said previously about my general use of the beads (as single pieces in a collectors-box).
My friend Karen has a different vision conc. Muraqat and wearing beads; This is what she has to say:
"The reason why I use the term Kiffa: all Kiffa’s are Muraqats, but not all Muraqats are Kiffa beads.
Like ‘Boules de Berlin’ are not only made in Berlin, it’s just to indicate a certain type of pastry, easier to differentiate.
‘Muraqat’ covers a vast area in the multi-coloured bead world, with the term Kiffa everybody knows immediately what range + technique you mean, I see it as a refinement in the terminology.
That's why I'll continue using the term Kiffa.
Inspired by the Mauritanian women who combine everything with everything (digbeads from the Sahara, agats and carnelians from India, early-islamic glass beads from ?, contemporary gold from Mauritania, … regardless to any cultural or periodical background ) according to their personal ‘beauty canon’, I chose to make a necklace that made it possible to accentuate the petiteness of those Kiffa-beads.
I also think the greatest tribute to a beadmaker is using the beads the way they were intented to: wearing them.
I do wear even the most precious beads from my collection with respect, pride, humbleness, in a responsible way and have the pleasure to share them this way with other people.
So many different beads, so many different people in love with them, so many different opinions about what to do with those treasures…
As long as they survive in all their beauty, the world is big enough for very different opinions, no?"
4-19-2006 - Allen [to Evelyn]:
“I just received my new Ornament and was paging through it earlier today on the bus to home. Your article on Kiffa (muracad) beads looks very nice. I look forward to reading it.”
6-27-06 - Busch [to the audience]:
“Instead they are just a certain type of simpler Nourakad, though not mahmoud-made, of course.”
“Not all beads on this photo show Nourakad.”
6-28-06 - Busch [to Steve]:
“The bead itself is not only simple and plain, also rather,....yes, ugly even, surely when compared to other, leave alone elaborate Nourakad.”
“Nourakad with ‘Hambilya-design’ are possibly the most common design among round shaped powderglass beads from Mauritania.”
6-28-06 - Allen [to Stricker]:
“Kirk Stanfield swears that his informant in Mauritania specifically said that what we popularly call "Kiffa" beads are called "murakad" by Mauritanians. Further, he says the name "nourakad" ONLY refers to a shape of certain beads, and is not a general name for the whole group. "Nourakad" was published by Jürgen Busch as a general name. Kirk says he [Busch] was misinformed or that he possibly misunderstood.”
6-30-06 - Busch [to adjichristine]:
“Sorry, I am not so familiar with your names, but I think it was Steve who had shown some of his Nourakad recently, but asked a question about a specific one.”
6-30-06 - Busch [to Evelyn]:
“The patina, workmanship and general appearance tells the rest. A rare and obscure Nourakad.”
9-14-06 - Allen [to adichristine]:
“Murakad beads must be later than the beads they copy. As demonstrated in my article in Ornament, murakad beads routinely copy beads that are as old as the Islamic Period, and from as late as the late Trade Bead Period—the 20th century.”
1-24-07 - Allen [to PK]:
“Kiffa beads, also called ‘muracad,’ are modern beads.”
8-16-07 - Allen [to BCN Admin]:
“Are muracad (‘Kiffa’) beads modern? They absolutely are!”
9-2-08 - Allen [to Morris]
“Although some Kiffa (murakad) beads copy Venetian millefiori beads, I don't know of a Venetian millefiori bead with a pattern similar to this one.”
11-15-08 - Busch [to Allen]:
“NOT "Muracad"! MOUARGHAD is the bead's real name, instead!”
11-19-08 - Allen [to the audience]:
“‘Muracad’ is the name Kirk Stanfield received from an informant in Mauritania. It has been published, and he has communicated to me that he believes the name Mr. Busch prefers is wrong. If Mr. Busch thinks he is not mistaken, he can prove it. My mind is open. The informant didn't speak to me....”
11-19-08 - Busch [to Allen]:
“You, of all people, suddenly rely on an [sic] follow Kirk, not me, when it comes to information on ‘Kiffas’?”
“Right, Kirk insisted - that was a few years ago, when he returned from a trip to Mauritania - the correct Hassaniya name for ‘Kiffa Beads’ is ‘MURACAD’. True is [sic] is further, that I disagreed an [sic] said ‘NURACAD’ was the correct spelling an pronounciation [sic]. With an ‘N’ and not an ‘M’ in the front, I said! Kirk said the opposite! The difference was the difference between an ‘M’ and an ‘N’.
KIRK WAS CORRECT! But wait...!”
“... I insist, actually I know!!, that Kirk´s knowledge on ‘Kiffas’ is less than mine.”
“...I am certain that Kirk´s ‘Kiffa-knowledge’ on the other hand, exeeds [sic] the knowledge you have on this [sic] beads.”
“Had you read, had you known that I already came up with a third and very recent version of the spelling -one that is neither Kirk´s nor my version with an ‘N’ in the front - both had been wrong, actually - but since I had given the translation of that word in that post (2-3 days back), you should have sensed that I expanded my knowledge on the correct spelling, meanwhile!”
1-26-13 - Stanfield [to Stricker]:
11-15-16 - Busch [to the audience]:
“I propose we change old habbits and call the beads Muraqat (‘The Colorful’)- their real name ..., in Mauritania, their place of origin."
THE TIME-RANGE FOR ROLLED-PAD BEADS
6-27-06 - Busch [to the audience]:
“Not all beads on this photo show Nourakad. One of them shown here is of Middle Eastern production, possibly, more surely than just possibly, made some time around 800-1000 AD.”
6-28-06 - Busch [to Evelyn]:
“Locally called ‘HAMBLIYA’, this ca. 1000 year old drawn bead from Fustat (Cairo) - being of the same period than ‘MORFIA’..."
8-17-07 - Allen [to Gabriel]:
“I agree that Islamic Period glass beads are ‘ancient’ beads—and I have never said otherwise. In fact, I am the PRIME motivator in the recognition of the contribution of beadmaking from this period. Prior to my personal work in this arena, the typical presentation of these beads suggested they were ‘Roman’—making them about 1,000 year's too early. I have worked for twenty-three years to change this perception and misrepresentation, beginning with what I still regard as the correct timeframe for beads from West Africa that I maintain are Islamic, but that are still routinely misrepresented as ‘Roman’ (that began in the mid-1980s). There can be no doubt that the tradition of Islamic beadmaking extends back into Roman times, and no doubt that this is an ancient tradition. However, it is much less than accurate to call it a ‘Roman tradition’—because this region is the HOME of glassworking, and it's the Romans who merely exploited it rather than devised it.
I hope this clarifies my position. I have said all of this MANY times.”
9-10-06 - Allen [to Steve]:
“Prior to the time that I introduced the concept of Islamic Period beads, all of these were routinely identified as ‘Roman’ beads. This was happening, even from knowledgeable bead researchers, as recently as about ten years ago. My ideas stem from my original research conducted in the early '80s, and stressed in lectures and publications ever since that time.”
11-15-08 - Allen [to Gabriel]:
“This is a rolled-pad glass bead, made from a millefiori plaque. As such it cannot be Venetian, because they never made beads this way. Rolled-pad beads date from Roman through Islamic times, and are practically no longer made (even by most fakers--which is how you can tell a bead is a fake). Your bead is somewhat similar to a bunch Thomas Stricker showed a while back, though from simpler canes. These are Islamic Period beads that inspired certain beads from Mauritania in the Kiffa (muracad) family.”
11-15-08 - Busch [to Allen]:
“What do you mean saying this [sic] beads are from the ‘Islamic period’?”
“You stated these are ‘Islamic Period’ beads while, elsewhere, you call rolled-pad beads being from Roman through Islamic times. How are you going to argue yourself out of your very own contradiction?”
“Such beads are most likely from Egyptian workshops - possibly FUSTAT-made around 800-850 AD - the original ‘design-idea’ goes possibly further back into the past and into Roman times!”
11-24-08 - Allen [to the audience]:
“In my 1996 article on Kiffa beads, I indicated that certain patterns copy the decorations of a specific group of rolled-pad beads from the Islamic Period. I demonstrated this by showing both bead styles, and substantiated it with a reliable reference (using a work by Johann Callmer—the eminent Scandinavian scholar who has published often on Viking beads). Here's a work that was published the same year as my article, that further substantiates my observation. This is p. 157 from a work titled ‘Ancient Trades and Cultural Contacts in Southeast Asia.’ Note that these same rolled-pad beads are shown, and are said to be Eastern Mediterranean and from ca. the 9th to 10th centuries (though recovered in Thailand).”
“EXACTLY THE SAME” ?
11-15-08 - Allen [to Gabriel]:
“This is a rolled-pad glass bead, made from a millefiori plaque. As such it cannot be Venetian, because they never made beads this way. Rolled-pad beads date from Roman through Islamic times, and are practically no longer made (even by most fakers--which is how you can tell a bead is a fake). Your bead is somewhat similar to a bunch Thomas Stricker showed a while back, though from simpler canes. These are Islamic Period beads that inspired certain beads from Mauritania in the Kiffa (muracad) family. They are fairly rare beads--so enjoy.
11-15-08 - Busch [to Allen]:
“This bead is not - compared to Thomas´ beads - just ‘somewhat simelar’ [sic], as you say. I say the bead is EXACTLY of the VERY same family: same size; same shape; same colors; same color combinations AND same production technic as Thomas' beads!”
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE PROBLEM OF CRITICIZING OTHERS
11-20-08 - Will [to Busch]:
“You are wrong on several counts. You are wrong initially because you jump into a judgement about these beads without offering any adequate justification for your opinion. You say, at one point, that the right-hand bead is a fake made in Indonesia. In fact, it is nothing like the Indonesian fakes of Warring States beads. Then, elsewhere, you say that you have seen a lot of these beads in Peshawar. I know Peshawar quite well, too, and I very much doubt that assertion, or rather I would bet that you didn't look closely enough at the beads you saw there to notice how different they were from the beads that Steve posted here.
What I am saying is that you need to back up your assertions with something more concrete, something called evidence, and you haven't in fact done that with any of the beads whose authenticity you have recently called into question on this forum. So that makes you wrong, not just on this particular count, but habitually. It is quite simply irresponsible to start challenging things merely because you ‘feel there is something wrong with them.’ Why should I trust your feelings? I want to hear your reasons.
And you are wrong again when you accuse people of reacting in either a defensive or a cowardly way when they take offence to your unsubstantiated assertions or, alternatively, when they don't reply at all because they can't be bothered to argue with someone who hasn't had any arguments to present. Why do you assume that they owe you something more?”
The second photo was a mistake. Here are both photos again—demonstrating the image I discussed with Gabriel, and the image posted by Thomas—that Busch said was "exactly the same." JDA.
What is your point, Allen? What is the context? Why you bring it up? To proof me wrong? You can do that all day long, so often have I been wrong, so often did I changed my mind, so often did I HAVE TO change my mind, due to better knowledge and convincing arguments! Big deal!
How "Konrad Adenauer", Germany's first chancellor said 1950 in the German parliament, quote:
"What do I care about my chitchat from yesterday?"
I did not go through all your old quotes. The past is only relevant when it serves the future.
I read your final post, though. So I said both photos were the same? Or did I say the beads on both photos were the same? Can you be more precise? Without knowing why you are obviously arguing the beads on both photos are not same - I repeat my 10 year old statements and say:
Yes, I believe the beads on both photos belong to the same family, their designs are based on the same iconography (it's not a random design, is what I am saying).
To be certain - don't you agree - one should observe both beads next to each other with their own pair of eyes and a decent magnifying glass. I never had this chance. Could I be wrong? Of course I could and have been many times before (see Nourakad vs. Muraqad and definitely other cases).
“It is nobler to declare oneself wrong than to insist on being right --especially when one is right.”
Only now I figured out - I believe - what Jamey was saying with the links he posted. While I originally thought he was refering to the words "Muraqad" versus "Nourakad", it seems to me now that he wanted to state for the record, what I knew, but had forgotton about. That he, Jamey has obviously been the first researcher in USA - maybe together with Anita Gumpert - to see and hear about this bead type, not the Oppers around 1990, as I had erronously stated in my post.
Only for those who have been to that country can imagine how very difficult it is to hear the difference between the two words - one with an "M" the other with an "N" in front.
Fact is (now) that the correct term for the whole group, for all those beads collectors call "Kiffa Beads", is MURAQAT, "the colorful" in translation, though a direct translation is impossible here. The word is derived from the noun "Arghad" (color[ful]) and is certainly describing all Mauritanian powderglass beads, not just some of them!!
Jean Gabus - the Swiss Ethnologist, who did a lot of research in the country - writes that "Muraqat" were not only made in the technique most of us know about, but also in a furnace. A very confusion statement, though I met a single woman in the Northern town of Atar, who said exactly the same (before I knew about Gabus' findings). My own collection does not seem to confirm that - all beads are made in the known technique. A riddle! Another riddle connected to Muraqat, actually!
The name "Kiffa Beads" - I would like to repeat that - is not a appropiate name in my opinion. It seems to imply the beads were made - or invented - nowhere, but in the little Southern town of some 35.000 folks. That was NOT the case! "Kiffa" beadmaking woman - as far as the old varieties are concerned - were part of nomadic families, without a home or base other than the vast plains of the southern West-Sahara.
Still - Jamey was the first to see and discuss Muraqat/"Kiffa Beads", not the Oppers, as I had stated in my post! Sorry for the mistake - not on purpose!