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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beads and Superstition

Beads have been used for religious purposes and for purposes related to superstition. Although the line between the two can sometimes be fuzzy, I would define religion as a belief in a deity (or deities) to give meaning to our temporary lives in an otherwise chaotic existence. Superstition deals with small disconnected issues. The use of beads in superstition assumes that they have some magical power to ward off evils. Beads in religion are tools to help in communicating with God (or gods). Anyway, beads can be beautiful in their own right, whatever their purpose.
So, having defined superstition as well as I can, let’s go on to some of the history of beads and superstition.

Evil Eye
Probably, the most widespread superstitious bead with a long history is the Evil Eye. This type of bead dates back to prehistoric times and has been found particularly in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, Asia Minor, the Middle East, and Europe. The concept is that someone can cause you harm by giving you the Evil Eye. Beads shaped and colored to look like an eye were made to ward off this evil.

Ancient Egypt
In ancient Egypt heart shaped beads were believed to promote health. They were also often buried with the dead to continue good health into the afterlife. Another ancient Egyptian bead called the menat was believed to protect women and bring them love. A lotus shaped bead was believed to give intelligence, and a fish bead was believed to ward off evil. Eye shaped beads to fight the Evil Eye were typically blue in color.

Other Ancient Civilizations
The Romans believed amber beads could ward off illnesses. A ram shaped bead was believed by some Middle Eastern civilizations to give strength.

Adder Beads
Adder beads were beads made of a glass-like material found in Britain since ancient times. The peasants believed that they were made by adders (poisonous snakes). They were believed to cure various ills in people and livestock as well as to help with difficult pregnancies
The Beadshaper will be offering her handcrafted lampwork glass beads and handcrafted jewelry at the Pasadena Bead and Design Show July 24-27, 2014 in the Pasadena Hilton Hotel, 168 S Los Robles in Pasadena, California. See Beadshaper for details.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Silver from Ancient Times through the Renaissance

The use of silver by man dates back to 4000 B.C. The first silver mines are believed to have been in Anatolia. The Anatolian mines supplied silver to the craftsmen of the ancient civilizations of Asia Minor, the Near East, and Greece. The cupellation process of extracting silver from ores containing silver and lead was developed in Chaldea around 2500 B.C. Silver mining in ancient times was often done by slaves because of the toxic effects of lead poisoning to the miners. The Minoan and Mycenaean civilization on the island of Crete became especially active in silver craftsmanship until their decline between 1600 and 1200 B.C. Then the silver mines at Laurium near Athens became the major source of silver for the emerging Greek civilization. The next major source of silver mining developed in Spain first supplying Carthage and later the Roman Empire. After the Moorish invasion of Spain in the 8th Century A.D., the source of silver for Europe was diversified into Central and Eastern Europe. After the discovery of the New World in 1492, new sources of silver were found in the Americas.
Rose will be presenting her lampwork glass beads and jewelry creations at the Pasadena Bead and Design Show July 24 - 27 as well as teaching various exciting jewelry making techniques. See Shows for details.