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Posted by: hendrik Post Reply
12/17/2005, 12:50:07

Hi,
Is anybody familiar with these beads? My information is that they originate from Afghanistan and are about 2000 years old. A friend bought them in Bangkok recently. All info is welcome. The biggest bead is 14x68mm.
Thanks,
Hendrik

Afghannecklace01bis.jpg (82.8 KB)  


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Brown Agates
Re: Feedback -- hendrik Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Jeff Post Reply
12/17/2005, 15:51:10

Greetings Hendrik, I have a few of the ancient browns and love them dearly! Some are considered DZI beads as well! The problem with any stone bead is in assigning an age to it. Copies have been made since the originals! Look for wear at the ends of the beads, and in the hole itself. ALSO, the horse shoe shaped marks indicate they've been "clinked" together for a time, though this can be recreated as well, and this "mark" has many guesses as to origin and age.
Can you post a few closeups of a bead or two, and I'll give you my best guess. Anything bought in Bankok is immediately suspicious to us yanks! They get better with copies every year!
Good luck!
Jeff

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Re: Brown Agates
Re: Brown Agates -- Jeff Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: hendrik Post Reply
12/17/2005, 16:51:52

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for your reply. I'll post some closeups tomorrow in daylight. From what I've heard, lots of artefacts from all over Asia turn up in Bangkok. A few years ago I got some Venetian millefiore necklaces strung on raffia. Anything seems to be possible there, the good with the bad.
Hendrik



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Re: Brown Agates
Re: Re: Brown Agates -- hendrik Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Jeff Post Reply
12/18/2005, 06:44:18

Hi Hendrik, they "do" look a bit too new, especially getting a whole strand at once. My three came on a strand of mixed color stones from a yard sale! The previous owner had bought them in Africa in the 60's, and she was told they were petrified wood at the time! Everyone has a story!
Still gorgeous beads, whatever the age!
Jeff

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Reproduction Agate Beads
Re: Feedback -- hendrik Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/17/2005, 18:23:13

Hello Hendrik,

These are new or recent reproduction beads from India. They are often sold as coming from Nepal, but I am reasonably sure their origin is India--where there's a long tradition of making these beads.

The beads were made to copy various banded agate beads from antiquity, dating from as early as the 3rd millennium BCE, through modern times—but particularly the so-called "Achaemenid" and "Sargonid" beads from about 500 BCE, that (when they are found in Tibet) are sometimes called "natural zi beads." Many of the actual ancient banded agate beads that these copy come to us from Afghanistan—so the line you were fed is not unexpected.

These new reproduction beads have been around for maybe six or seven years now. One of the primary dealers who usually has them is Kamol, who does a lot of bead shows. Of course, many sellers have them, and some are already misrepresenting them as "ancient" beads, for considerably more than their normal commercial value.

I have a very decent collection of specimens--some of which were seen in my article on Tibetan zi beads for Arts of Asia a few years ago. I have written about these beads at forum sites quite a lot. Plus, I have them in one of my exhibits at The Bead Museum.

Once you've seen them, they are pretty easy to spot.

Sorry you got ripped-off.

Jamey



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Re: Reproduction Agate Beads
Re: Reproduction Agate Beads -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: hendrik Post Reply
12/18/2005, 12:18:06

Here's a closeup of one of the beads.
Thanks for all the feedback. I'm gonna return the necklace to the seller. I never spent a lot of money on beads if I'm not able to give them back eventually.I payed 200 Euros and that's a lot for some recently made (still like them) beads.
Hendrik

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Re: and another one
Re: Re: Reproduction Agate Beads -- hendrik Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: hendrik Post Reply
12/18/2005, 12:19:49

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New but very nice
Re: Re: and another one -- hendrik Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Russ Nobbs Post Reply
12/22/2005, 23:04:25

We also saw this sort of brown/black banded agate in Bangkok a few weeks ago. Very nice beads. We nearly bought one strand that Dee really liked for about USD90. I think we got down to Baht 3500 for the strand before Dee decided she really didn't need it to wear.

I think 200 Euros is not an unreasonable retail price for the goods. We were buying quite a few other things. By comparison to opening prices at other dealers we were being offered quite low wholesale prices at this particular dealer.

There are 6 or more Afghani dealers on Charoen Krung In Bangkok that have intersting new and old beads. At least one works with one of the traders out of Africa and carries old and new goods from the Afican trade.

On another note, A nearby shop featured every imaginable sort of simulated turquoise, shell and stone "block" material made in the US and sold to the silver manufacturers in Thailand for inlay work. I'll post some pictures when I get them organized.

--Russ (www.rings-things.com - Spokane, WA - USA)



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Re: New but very nice
Re: New but very nice -- Russ Nobbs Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: hendrik Post Reply
12/22/2005, 23:44:20

Thanks Russ,
It is good to know what is going on in the bead scene. All the info is very helpful.
Best wishes to you and everybody on this forum,
Hendrik

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Hi Hendrick,
Re: Re: Reproduction Agate Beads -- hendrik Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: joyce Post Reply
12/18/2005, 13:18:18

To say they are new, in the case of these beads in my opinion, is not to say they are junk. Kamol asks nearly 300.00 U.S. for some of his strands made in India. They (and yours) are beautiful beads and are, as explained by Kamol, finished by hand. That's why they don't have that off-putting high gloss that most new stone beads do today. They have a soft satiny shine.



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I Agree!!
Re: Hi Hendrick, -- joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Jeff Post Reply
12/18/2005, 15:18:42

As Joyce said, They are beautiful beads! I only own one of the "new" ancients, though I will buy more as I see ones that catch my eye!
Many are too beautiful to pass up, regardless of the age! When I see some of the natural color bands, or eye patterns brought to life, I drool for them too! Good Luck!
Jeff



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Re: I Agree!!
Re: I Agree!! -- Jeff Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/18/2005, 17:15:16

Hi Jeff,

The primary reason I have so many of these beads is that I cannot resist buying them. They are so gorgeous and well-made. Apart from age, they rival many ancient beads in beauty and workmanship. The Indian beads more than the Chinese beads, in general.

However, please note the colors of these beads are not "natural." Just has has been done in antiquity for thousands of years, all of these agate beads have been color-treated to enhance their appearance. They are not "dyed," but rather submitted to chemical baths and heat-treated. Without these processes, there would be very few brown, black, or red/reddish agates. And many other colors as well. This is something I have studied for over twenty-five years. It was most recently discussed in my zi bead article for Arts of Asia.

Jamey



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Thanks Jamey!
Re: Re: I Agree!! -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Jeff Post Reply
12/18/2005, 19:28:22

Hi Jamey, yes, I was aware of the coloring of the red/orange agates thru heating in the coals, and I own a sweet "new" carnelian eye bead (no pic yet)that was overheated and created hundreds of minute fractures within the stone. A beauty to display, but I don't dare wear it.
I've colored a few reds myself this way, with varying degrees of success!
5 minutes or so in the coals, then into a warm ash pile to cool slowly.
Do you know the formula for the browns? I'd love to give it a try!
Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season to all.
Jeff


This agate eye is actually PINK overall! My daughter refuses to take it off! It was among the $5 strand from the yard sale! jl

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Color Formulas
Re: Thanks Jamey! -- Jeff Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/19/2005, 03:27:41

Hi Jeff,

it's pretty simple, but not as simple as you think.

In India, the agate nodules that are gathered for the production of carnelian are already naturally impregnated with iron--and simple heating makes the material turn red/reddish.

It has been recognized from as early as 2,500 BCE that heat-treating certain stones changes their appearance. It's also reasonable to assume that by logical deduction they figured out that something was in some stones and not in others, that made heat-treating result in color changes. And they set about to determine what you could do to add these colorants to stones. This went on for a very long time, but there is almost no ancient literature that discusses it. A vague reference from the Roman Period is found in Pliny.

The German agate-cutters at Idar-Oberstein (a former Roman outpost, where agate was worked since the Roman Period) brought the coloring of agates to a science. They recognized that certain agates took the treatments better than others (due to "porosity"), and they devised chemical formulas for solutions to permanently make the stones red, yellow, green, blue, and brown. (They also used an organic dye to make a purple or plum agate, but this was a temporary treatment, that is not light-proof.)

The basic and earliest colors, brown and red, were almost certainly known from antiquity.

For brown-to-black, fully dry the stone, and then soak it in a solution of sugar. (Honey or any sugar works.) Then, the stone is burnt to make the color change. If burnt with fire, it caramelizes and turns brown. If burnt with acid, it carbonizes and turns black.

For red, iron nails were disolved in acid (I think it's sulfuric acid), and the stones were soaked in this liquid. Then heating made them turn red. The range of colors is more predictable and rich than often occurs (as at India) from stones that "naturally" have this surplus of iron from the ground.

The success of these treatments depends a lot on the agate. Some material is much more porous than that from other locations. This is also why some decorated stone ("etched") beads are well-made and others are not (the nonporous ones). And, in part, it explains the general trend for these beads and zi beads to be brown or black.

In the 1880s, the Germans discovered that cheap undistinguished agate from Brazil, that was cheap and plentiful, took their coloring processes very well. So, since that time, most of the commercial agate in production for small articles and lots of beads is Brazilian agate, treated by Germans, or by people who learned the art from Germans. In the 180s, Brazil took up the practice. In the '90s, the Chinese began to crank-out tons of stuff. And, of course, now the Chinese make lots of fake zi beads too. There recent carnelian beads--such as you show, are artificially colored (soaked) and heat-treated.

By the way, the German process, as I mentioned earlier, are often misidentified as consisting of "dying the agate." This is absolutely wrong. The process is permanent (whereas dying is not), and the solutions that are made are not dyes (that would be organic compounds). The Germans refer to these products as being "beizen" ("BITE-zen"). The word is difficult to translate precisely, for this context--and unfortunately in 25 years I have never gotten anyone to adopt it. Simply put, it means "steeped in acid." Pickles are beizen; and leather is beizen. "Pickled beads" ? I thought it was funny and evocative..., but no one joined me in the laugh.

Jamey



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Re: Color Formulas
Re: Color Formulas -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: jeff Post Reply
12/21/2005, 06:05:32

Thanks Again Jamey! I'll post some trial and error pics when I try it out. Learning is easier by doing!
All the best, and Happy Holidays to ALL!!!
Jeff



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A Famous Image
Re: Re: Color Formulas -- jeff Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/21/2005, 06:28:27

Hi Jeff,

Here's the Frontispiece from the book Quartz Family Minerals, by Dake, Fleener, and Wilson (1938).

The specimen shows the color effects acheived at Idar-Oberstein. From the top down: dyed fuscia; green, yellow, blue, carnelian, sard (brown) (all beizen), and untreated natural agate.

Note that the process does not affect either the opaque white layers, nor the massive crystaline areas (as in the center). Consequently, a typical result is that the banded structure of any particular stone is enhanced and "picked-out"—though, of course, it would be possible to select material that would accept the processes in a plain uniform manner too.

This book, and other more recent tomes, discuss the coloring processes in some detail (especially recent titles). I recommend reading these before you "try it at home."

Good luck. Jamey

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Amazing Image!
Re: A Famous Image -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: jeff Post Reply
12/21/2005, 12:14:56

Thanks again Jamey! The piece is incredible! I don't think I'll get quite that fancy, but it's lovely to see! YES, I planned on doing a bit more research before attempting it. Though it's scary how little time I seem to have for myself and my projects anymore! I thought that when the kids grew up, I'd be a free man! NOPE!
Best to you and yours, Jeff



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Interesting Info - Thanks Beadman.
Re: Color Formulas -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Barbara Post Reply
12/23/2005, 00:08:28

This is why I keep visiting!



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You're welcome! I'm glad you liked it.
Re: Interesting Info - Thanks Beadman. -- Barbara Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/23/2005, 03:07:58



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Re: Feedback
Re: Feedback -- hendrik Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: ANNE BAUER Post Reply
12/18/2005, 05:23:12

here you see some "ancient" dzi agate beads bought from a Hongkong dealer about 3 months ago. Some of them have horseshoe marks but they are all new and the price was around $ 150 for 10 brown ones, 5 large red bicones ones and 5 large round goat's eye ones.

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Origins
Re: Re: Feedback -- ANNE BAUER Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/18/2005, 12:39:17

Hello Anne,

Some (maybe all?) of your beads are new beads from China. These are different from the Indian material—especially the carnelian beads.

Happy Holidays.

Jamey



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Re: Origins
Re: Origins -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: abhayaasianart Post Reply
12/20/2005, 04:13:05

Here is a small ensemble of beads I picked up in a small village along the shores of Erhai Lake, Yunnan China. The oblong banded agates are similar to Anne's and in context with some pictures in a Chinese publication I have seen regarding excavations at San Ta, Dali, should be of the period i.e. circa 9th-11th CE. There are loads of wierd beads coming out of China these days. abhaya

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Re: Origins
Re: Re: Origins -- abhayaasianart Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/20/2005, 05:17:37

Hello Abhaya,

MANYof the beads that come from China are misrepresented. (Not necessarily yours.)

It is a mistake to confuse NEW beads with old beads that were made similarly.

The new beads can be recognized.

Many Chinese publications are composed by folks who may not be aware of ongoing research and determinations regarding these issues. Collectors are similarly confused.

Good luck!

Jamey



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Re: Origins
Re: Re: Origins -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: abhayaasianart Post Reply
12/20/2005, 19:01:40

Hi Jamey, I am just offering these for comparison to Anne's for her to draw her own conclusions. The ones I posted were found geographically "in situ" as Erhai Lake was the heartland of Dali society and the reference I saw mentions the excavated recovery site, notwithstanding they look old to me. Then again authenticity is usually just a "matter of opinion" when verifiable scientific analysis is not available to corroborate it. I 100% agree regarding many PRC and ROC publications are written by enthusiastic collectors or dealers trying to lend their sales validity. Even much of the academic archeological research in the PRC is tainted by State dictates for their findings to support the current nationalist trend. No doubt there is a load of rubbish coming out of China. A couple of Hong Kong dealers I know now go to Nepal regularly and are coming back with boxes of differing grades of “Tibetan eye beads” as Chinese people are now believing that these will bring them luck, as one Hong Kong dealer told me “desperate people will try anything”. Believe only what you see, half of what you read and a quarter what you hear- that goes for this post as well. best wishes for a Happy Hanukka! abhaya



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