This article describes an unprovenanced artifact: a 700-year-old beaded hair comb probably entombed with a woman who died between 1405 and 1446 during China’s early Ming dynasty. It is intended to establish basic facts and stimulate further research. The comb may be the first intact example of mainland Chinese beadwork to undergo radiocarbon dating as well as laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) analysis. The lead-potash (Pb-K) composition of the comb’s glass coil beads resembles that of coil beads recovered from jar burials of the 15th-17th centuries in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains. Thus, the comb links glass coil beads ostensibly made for use within China to coil beads exported to Southeast Asia.
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.
"A Beaded Hair Comb of the Early Ming Dynasty."
BEADS: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers
33: 27-33. Available at:
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