Trade Beads - Slave Beads
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Slave beads (often called Trade beads) were otherwise decorative glass beads
used between the 16th and 20th century as a currency to exchange for goods,
services and slaves (hence the name). Made to ease the passage of European
explorers and then traders mainly across the African continents, the beads were
made throughout Europe although the Venetians dominated production. Trade beads
are also found in the United States and Canada, and throughout Latin America.
The production of slave (trade) beads became so popular that literally tons of
these beads were used for this purpose. Beads were used as ballast in
slave/trade ships for the outbound trip. The beads and other trade items were
exchanged for human cargo as well as ivory, gold and other goods desired in
Europe and around the world. The beads traded were not of a set design, but were
produced according to demand. Millefiori (thousand flower) beads from Venice,
Italy were one of the most commonly traded beads, and are commonly known as
"African trade beads." They were produced by creating flowers or stripes from
glass canes, that were then cut and molded onto a core of solid color. Beads
such as the kiffa beads of Mauritania are thought to have resulted from women
creating powdered glass beads to mimic the appearance of millefiori beads.
The success of this form of currency can largely be attributed to the high
intrinsic value African people put upon decorative items. Africans often used
beads for currency, (often referred to as African money) and wealth storage, and
social status could be easily determined by the quality, quantity and style of
jewellery worn. This created a high demand for trade beads in Africa.
Click Thumbnails for
Most of the seven strings of trade beads on offer date to
19th century Venice, though the brass examples with cosmological symbols were
made by the Baule of the Ivory coast. Carnelian beads were made in Bohemia,
India and the Sahara. This group is offered as "a collection".
This rare 4 - 6 layered Chevron necklace of 28 beads has a
circumference of 34 centimeters, or + - 13 inches. The largest bead (center) has a 7.5
cm circumference, or + - 3 inches.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Chevron Beads are special glass beads, originally made for
trade in the New World and the slave trade in Africa by glassmakers in Italy as
far back as the early 15th century. They are composed of many consecutive layers
of colored glass. The initial core is formed in a star-shaped mold, and can have
anywhere between five and fifteen points. The next layer of glass conforms to
that star shape. Several layers of glass can be applied (typically four to seven
layers), either star-shaped or smooth. After all layers have been applied, the
glass is drawn out to the desired thickness and when cooled, cut into short
segments showing the resulting star pattern at their ends. The ends can be
ground to display the chevron pattern. Chevron beads are traditionally composed
of red, blue, and white layers, but modern chevrons can be found in any color
combination. Original beads made for trade to the New World and Africa were
typically composed of green, white, blue and red layers.
Chevron beads are a specific, historically important type
of trade bead. Africa was not the only outlet for these beads. As far back as
Christopher Columbus' expeditions, these beads were traded to Native Americans
for goods and slaves.
Chevron beads are very popular collectors' items and they
are still highly valued in present day West Africa, where they continue to be
worn for prestige and ceremonial purposes, and occasionally buried with the
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