Post Message Search Overview RegisterLoginAdmin
Need ID Help Please! Ancient? Blue & White Mali Dug Beads
Post Reply Edit View All Forum
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
11/15/2019, 21:13:45

Need some ID Help please with these two similar glass "dug" beads from Mali, Africa, acquired many decades ago in the African Bead Trade. They are Blue & White "swirling" I suppose "furnace glass" and I believe wound & "folded" as well, and both have distinct very worn white stripes at the core, and a few other locations. The core white stripes are not continuous all the way around the inner hole, and some become distorted, pulled at an angle. The swirling blue and white glass can also be seen at intervals inside the bead hole interrupting the white "stripes".

My best guess is that the white glass "stripes" or white glass pieces were laid down in a striped pattern and pressed into the blue glass softened by heat, then rolled central to the bead. The bead then rolled, folded, and formed resulting in the swirling glass patterns. Please forgive my lack of accurate descriptive terms.

Both are measuring ~16mm wide, and about 7-8mm at thickest. Hole size is ~4-4.5mm and ~5mm for bead with old chipped side.

I am about to list this on my eBay and want to be as accurate as possible.

Any information on Origin, Age, and How these were likely made and anything else that is readily apparent to someone more experienced in this area than I am, would be much appreciated.

Will post a few single Pics & also Album. Please see IMGUR Album at bottom- be sure to scroll down to see all photos. Sorry the photos are not the best and had to make many attempts.

https://imgur.com/a/27rG3xL

Thanks so much I do appreciate your Help and Bead Knowledge, Anne

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Modified by AnneLFG at Fri, Nov 15, 2019, 22:19:36

Copyright 2020
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: Blue & White Mali Beads
Re: Need ID Help Please! Ancient? Blue & White Mali Dug Beads -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/16/2019, 14:35:58

Hello Anne,

Your beads, and many that are recovered from the Niger River occupation sites, dating from ca 1,000 years ago, are mosaic-glass beads. That means they were composed from pre-formed multicolored elements. Among the mosaic-glass types, the most-common and most-admired type is millefiori work. But there are other types of mosaic-glass. And different types or aspects can be combined together.

Without actually having handled and examined your bead(s), I would say that they are probably from the group I call "ribbon-glass." A straitified block has been stretched and reduced to a long thin striped element; and then a piece of this component has been hot-worked to become a bead.

This process is the essence of mosaic-glass work. The glassworkers first make multicolored elements. Then, once they have these elements, they proceed to use them to make beads.

This was an original and impressive strategy, that replaced the much more labor-intensive approach of taking some glass from a crucible, and manipulating it into a bead. The most-impressive examples of direct crucible work are the Phoenician Period head pendants and eye beads from ca. 500 BCE.

The genius of performing mosaic-glass work is three-fold: 1) beads with similar matching patterns can be made easily and much more quickly; 2) The patterns are more intricate and detailed than is direct furnace-work: 3) great numbers of beads can be made in a much shorter expendature of time and effort. In addition, it's possible and likely that mosaic-glass elements were sold or traded to other (more primative) glass industries that did not make mosaic-glasses, thereby helping them make more-intricate beads.

Your thoughts on how your beads were made, essentially, suggest that a beadmaker did various things to make a bead. But this is not the process. The beadmaker exploited preformed elements that were available to him, and from them made your bead(s)—and probably many others.

Among the beads recovered from digs in Mali, the most-frequent color combination is translucent blue with white. We see this combination most-often with millefiori eye beads. But there are other mosaic-glass types, including ribbon-glass pieces being used similarly to millefiori (making patchwork beads), and beads with ribbons that were spirally-rolled to make striped beads.

There is a whole class of mosaic-glass beads in which the ribbons have beed stretched and applied to a mandrel, in a random (or predefined) process, that probably involved winding, looping, crossing, and other possible steps. And the point of this work was to make beads that imitate the bandings of banded agate beads. (And, of course, this was a strategy used by many beadmakers since antiquity, who made mosaic-glass beads in more-modern times, to copy the appearance of banded agate—these being called "agate-glass beads.")

There are also a lot of beads that are just plain translucent blue glass. All (or most) of these beads were probably made in Egypt, from post-Roman times. The occupation sites in Mali were essentially places where Islamic scholars went to "get away" from the bustle of busy thriving cities and communities—and they went to Mali for R&R, to study the Qoran, and to make and pursue trading partnerships. And, I suppose, they brought with them a lot of Egyptian glass beads to trade to local people. This is the "big piecture" I have after having studied these beads, and contemplated their origins and context since 1983.

I have discussed mosaic-glass technology a number of times here at the Forum. Here's a post from 2006:

http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=43528&iZz=43528&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0

Be well. Jamey


Related link: http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=43528&iZz=43528&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0
Modified by Beadman at Sat, Nov 16, 2019, 14:40:54

Copyright 2020
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: Re: Blue & White Mali Beads/Thanks Jamey
Re: Re: Blue & White Mali Beads -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
11/16/2019, 18:14:39

Thank You so much Jamey. I have seen similar beads labeled as "Ancient Islamic", and/or "Ancient Roman". I am always dubious, especially when it comes to beads being sold on eBay, though perhaps some are correctly labeled.

Your explanation makes sense, and "get it" now- just had never thought of or learned about the "ribbon glass" method.

I will follow your link and try to learn more...maybe I'll also find a general time span?

Thanks, as always, Anne

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Copyright 2020
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: Mali Beads
Re: Re: Re: Blue & White Mali Beads/Thanks Jamey -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/17/2019, 15:54:34

You are welcome Anne.

In the early excavation reports, the site was believe to encompass ca. CE 500 through ca. CE 1200. I don't know if this range has been refined or not.

Because "CE 500" could be regarded as being "Late Roman," the glass beads were popularly said to be "Roman." This was how they were described in the first edition of The History of Beads in 1987. At that time (1985 to '86) when I was consulting with Lois, I expressed my doubts that this was an accurate appraisal of the beads—and that I believed they were from later times. But the Mali beads were shown in The Bead Chart Timeline at this early date. It is has been often repeated.

In my opinion, "The Roman Period" encompasses 200 BCE to CE 200. Placing anything from a later time, and calling it "Roman" is essentially a technicality with a rationalization—but it becomes a selling factor to use the name to make the artifact seem "more important" and get a higher price for it.

Also, subsequent (though popular, and not necessarily archaeological) accounts have implied that the earliest beads from the excavations were the copious quartz and agate/carnelian beads (from India)—also suggesting that the glass beads would be from much later. I am comfortable suggesting a range of CE 1100 + or - ca. 100 years—placing them well-into the Islamic Period.

In the revised 2009 edition of The History of Beads, in The Bead Chart, you will find the Mali burial beads at CE 1100. Likewise, in Panini's book, Middle Eastern and Venetian Glass Beads (2008), you will also find them squarely in the Islamic Period. (I am cited for this advice in his book.)

There are several discussions of these dating issues here at the Forum, and elsewhere—mostly engaged by me.

Jamey



Copyright 2020
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: Re: Mali Beads/Thank You
Re: Re: Mali Beads -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
11/17/2019, 21:40:34

Jamey, That clears up a lot, and I thank you so much for the information.

Anne

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Copyright 2020
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
You are welcome Anne!
Re: Re: Re: Mali Beads/Thank You -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/17/2019, 23:03:15



Copyright 2020
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Another possibility
Re: Need ID Help Please! Ancient? Blue & White Mali Dug Beads -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/17/2019, 23:14:57

It has been suggested that, possibly, your beads may not be Mali burial beads at all.

This is a proposition I had not considered.

Among beadmakers (or more-properly bead-alterers) in Ghana, there are some techniques they exploit to make new beads from old beads.

Among other things, they will take two or three drawn beads, stack them one-atop the other, heat them until they fuse, and then twist the resulting bead to make the stripes spiral. I have specimens where this was done with old rosetta beads.

Let us say the person began with a striped "Dutch cane bead." (These may or may not be Dutch, and could easily be Venetian.) They typically have three layers—these being blue-white-blue, with external white stripes. It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that someone could take one of these beads (or two stacked together, if necessary), heat it/them, pull the glass so that it becomes an elongated mass, and then make a wound bead—as described previously.

I suppose this is an idea to be considered. Jamey



Copyright 2020
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: Another possibility/always good to consider all things
Re: Another possibility -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
11/17/2019, 23:31:24

Thought about that as at first I thought the center hole white stripes resembled what you see at the core of an Old Chevron- more or less. Upon close inspection I do not see the actual "zig-zag" you might expect and sometime do see in the African Re-worked beads.
I do have some of those, so know exactly what you are referring to. On the ones I have you can see hints and pieces of the actual (7 layer) Chevron design without much doubt. Of course, the Africans re-worked more than Chevrons... but the stripes reminded me of an old worn Chevron at first.
But I think you are right- it would be in the realm of possibilities, but I'm leaning more towards the Mali "Dug" origin.
Hey, Thanks!

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Copyright 2020
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users


Forum     Back