Archaeological research has revealed a long history of glass bead exchange and use in Taiwan, yet it has seldom been discussed in the literature. This paper provides an introduction to this exchange from the Iron Age (ca. late 1st millennium BC – mid-2nd millennium AD) to the early modern period (ca. AD 1600-1900) by revisiting the archaeological and historical records. It is suggested that changes in bead styles and chemical compositions over time reveal the transition of bead supply in Taiwan, which further reflects two broad phases of bead trade: Phase I) the earlier involvement of Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific bead exchange (1st millennium AD) and Phase II) the later cultural and economic contacts between the indigenous people, Chinese merchants, and Europeans (2nd millennium AD).
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.
"Glass Beads in Iron-Age and Early-Modern Taiwan: An Introduction."
BEADS: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers
30: 16-30. Available at:
Archaeological Anthropology Commons, History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology Commons, Science and Technology Studies Commons, Social and Cultural Anthropology Commons