Heritage bead traditions in Uzbekistan.

Beads are still culturally significant in so many ethnic groups. Apart from their decorative value, beads are treasured for their connection to previous wearers. They were also prescious for the technology to make amd mold coloured, translucent glass was very special.

The silk road was one of the trade routes linking the Middle East wth Asia. Intrepid seafarers sailed fom India across the ocean to Africa. Somehow the ancient trades would travel from Egypt or Mesopotamia to the Northern countries we now call Scandinavia where they traded their glass for amber which was treasured in Egypt because it was regarded as having trapped the sun.

In this image of an Uzbek woman she sits in front of her precious textiles wearing three necklaces that are obviously treasures, and over her shoulders she has an elaborate ornament made out of new seed beads.

For Veronica the bead world is centered on Indonesia which has had beads coming from India in one direction and China in the other for at least 2000 years.

With the arrival of the European from the 17th century beads were traded for spice. Veronica once bought a strand of beads that came to us from Ambon. The story we were told about this strand was that Portuguese privateers had sailed around the Cape Horn arriving to Ambon from the east, thereby evading the Dutch who fiercely protected their monopoly of nutmeg. These bold, cheeky sailors filled their vessel with the cargo of spices and sailed back to Europe.

As time passes I find amazing connections of the bead trade going back thousands of years. A Roman bead in a Japanese grave, beads from Mesopotamia in a 600 BC grave in Norway. Baltic amber in 4000 year old Egyptian pharaoh's tomb. Over the next few blogs I shall explore some of these facets.

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