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This article serves as an introduction to the use of beads – both indigenous and European – in surviving examples of body ornaments of the early colonial period Caribbean: a cemí/belt in the collections of Rome’s Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico “L. Pigorini,” a belt from the Weltmuseum Wien, and a cache of beads in a wooden vessel from the collections of the Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico. These artifacts offer insights into how the Taíno may have adopted newly introduced foreign goods, aligning them to their own aesthetics and world view. Glass beads, acquired via visitors from foreign lands, entered into a well established repertoire of indigenous shell, stone, and potentially botanical beads, introducing different colors and finishes, but nevertheless fitting within traditional cultural expressions and value systems.

Publisher Information

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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