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Original Message:   Carnelian beads and a visit to Ladakh
Hello Ali,

Yes, these are very nice and interesting beads. I like the clarity of the stone, and the intricacy of the forms. I don't recall seeing ancient stone beads in these shapes, but they make me think West Asia and islamic rather than Himalayan.

Certainly, on the two occasions i went to Ladakh in the 1970s I don't recall seeing anything similar. It was an arduous journey especially on the first trek in the summer of '70 when the area was officially closed to foreigners because of border clashes with Pakistan and China. I was with some friends from Srinagar and we had to cross through the mountains from Kashmir to Ladakh on horseback so as to avoid the army patrols.

My reason for going was to see some of the amazing Tibetan-style Buddhist monasteries around Leh. In the town of Leh itself there was one shop that I remember selling jewellery and antiques. The most popular bead material by far was turquoise, and of course a lot of silver. There were a few carnelians, but either oblate or melon-shaped, not in the forms of your beads. I bought some very nice turquoise to give to friends and a lot of old tribal silver. All that I have left today is a wonderful but somewhat battered large 15th century bronze of Yamantaka and a heavily moulded silver and leather bracelet (attached, along with a young man in a mountain pass whom I scarcely recognize!)

Sorry, Ali, I can't be more help, but thank you for stirring the memories.

Will

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