The origin of the beads go back to the dawn of time. The material is still noble, rare and highly symbolic. In primitive times, up to the great ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, Rome and Mesopotamia, beads held a special place in society. Whether they be made of stone, bone, ceramics, amber, metal, glass or coral... they were used as ornament and adornment as well as magical objects (talisman). They even played a political role (as distinctive signs of belonging to notables' castes). For the most part, these beads have disappeared, but some are still being rediscovered on excavated sites along the former route of the Silk Road that camel caravans used in the early trade days. Today, these ancient beads, that have crossed space and time, allow us to create authentic necklaces and other pieces of jewelry for our greatest enjoyment.
The Italian glass masters started making Venetian and Murano beads in the fifteenth century. Their designs and techniques were inspired by antique beads. However, their role was mainly that of a currency, in the context of an emerging and growing trade between Europe, Africa and South America. Among those beads, there are three main categories: millefiori (or 1000 flowers ), rafters (or rosetta) and fansi (or filigrees). The great diversity and number of barter beads can be explained by the need to adjust the currency to the tastes of diverse ethnic groups met during the trades, which lasted several centuries.
The Bohemia bead is also a barter bead. It takes recognizable shapes such as drops, teeth, olives, crystals... Most of these beads date from the eighteenth century. At present, they are very popular among the Fulani people. It is evident that these beads are increasingly rare.
The tradition of making African beads continues today. The best known beads are those from Ghana, created from left over, recast and sometimes painted glass. These African beads are often inspired by antique patterns (flowers, eyes...). They are rich in color and they come in endless varieties. Mauritanian beads also nearly became extinct with the last women making Kiffa beads. However, today the craftsmanship of these beads has resumed. Mali produces a lot of clay beads. Cameroon, Sudan and Nigeria are also very active in this field. Besides, Africa owns a true jewelry "culture", with its Burkina bronze artifacts, its Tuareg jewelry...
In the following pages, you will find photos of my old pipes collection. Most of them are ancient Gambier pipes, made in clay as well as meerschaum, corn, paper... These pipes are part of my personal collection and I invite you to share my passion.
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