Beads, from the pages of history
All of us wear jewelry. Chances are that we all wear most, if not all, jewelry made of Beads. But do you know how old the culture of beads is?
History of beads goes back to 5000 years back, maybe many earlier to that.
Actually, glass beads came into its being right after the discovery of fire. Probably the oldest hints of glass beads we see in Egypt. However, the prior to glass beads man used to make beads with teeth, bones, stones, pearls, and shells. Naturally, those beads weren’t regular in shape. But with the advancement of human civilization, more regular shaped beads came into being.
In its early days, beads were used as a mechanism to protect from evil forces or to bring good luck or simply as a status symbol or even as an expression of femininity.
Beads spread all over the world
When Roman conquered Egypt, the art of making of beads went to the hands of Romans. Romans brought more advanced technology. One of their very popular variation of beads were Millefiori beads.
Romans were expert traders. Through them, beads reached all over the world, especially to Central Africa, China, and Scandinavia. In fact, beads were one of the most traded items during their time.
This situation continued till 5th Century AD until the fall of Romans.
The fall of beads popularity
As the Christianity started being dominant in Europe post the fall of Romans, a new type of culture started, a culture of austerity and disapproval of vanity. This naturally brings down the popularity of beads. This situation continues until the 12th century.
From History to New Technology for Beads making
During the 15th century, a new stream of artists started to grow who again reinvented the glass making style that once Roman made popular. In Fact, these artists moved the process of the glass making and thereby glass beads to even a newer high. They created hollow cylindrical glass canes which were cut and refined by grinding or heating. The use of these canes made glass bead making much easier and facilitated re-discovery of many Roman techniques
During this time, beads became so popular, that it even became a currency of trades between many different parts of the world. With these trades, beads went to North America and Africa.
Rosetta beads became very popular during this time.
Fuelled by these commercial successes, the art of beads making went further. With the invention of lampworking in glass making, beads making also became even easier, especially women started making beads even at home. Particularly Venice became center of all these invention and trades.
After the fall of Napoleon, Venice however, came under the control of Austria. Austrians moved all the focus from Venice to Bohemia. But somehow, Venice managed to continue its glory.
The modern history of Beads
During World War I and II, beads making got highly impacted. But during the 20th century, with the globalization, beads started making its way again to all over the world.
So beads and handmade beads jewelry are as old as the history of human civilization.