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Prosperity, Reverence and Protection: An Introduction to Asian Beadwork


Valerie Hector

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Fascinating and diverse beadworking traditions have flourished in Asia for more than 1000 years, with the preponderance of surviving specimens dating to the 19th and 20th centuries. Based on a lecture presented at the Third International Bead Conference in Washington, D.C., in 1995, this article introduces Asian beadwork as a fruitful topic of inquiry for bead specialists. Representative examples produced in the last millennium by various cultures in South Asia, mainland and island Southeast Asia and East Asia are shown and discussed. Although they certainly testify to the material wealth of their makers, in many cases these pieces also carry spiritual implications. As the study of Asian beadwork is still in its infancy, it is hoped that this article will inspire others to conduct further research on the subject.

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The Society of Bead Researchers is a non-profit scientific-educational corporation founded in 1981 to foster historical, archaeological, and material cultural research on beads and beadwork of all materials and periods, and to expedite the dissemination of the resultant knowledge. Membership is open to all persons involved in the study of beads, as well as those interested in keeping abreast of current trends in bead research.

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