Trade Wind Bead Books

January 12, 2015

Trade wind beads, beads that migrated along trade routes where ships utilized wind currents, and are studied in connection with ancient glassmaking techniques. There is a vast amount of information on trade wind beads in general, but there are only a limited number of authorities in the field.

Vanaka Malagasy discusses beads from different regions that were traded in Madagascar and later manufactured there in Perles Lagaches: Traveaux et Documents VI (Madagascar: Musee d’art et d’archeologie de l’University de Madagascar, 1918). It is the only source I have found that traces where millefiore beads were traded around the Indian Ocean.

G. N. van der Sleen created a wonderful introduction to antique trade beads that is simple and straightforward. Originally published in 1967 by the Journees Internationles du Verre at the Museum of Glass in Liege, Belgium. Handbook on Beads (York, PA.: Liberty Cap Books, 1973) discusses classification of beads and techniques for manufacturing beads. Modern variations of the millefiori bead are illustrated. This pamphlet contains a useful glossary of terms used in describing beads with translations in French, German, Italian, Dutch, and Polish.

Peter Francis Jr. provides an overall history of beadmaking along with a background of the beadmaking industry in “Some Thoughts on Glass Beadmaking,” Proceedings of the 1982 Glass Trade Bead Conference, edited by Charles F. Hayes, III (Rochester, N.Y.: Rochester Museum of Science Center, 1983): 193-202.

Hard to find, but Magdelena Tempemann-Maczynska created an authoritative work on all kinds of beads made in central Europe that were influenced by Roman technology in Die Perlen der Romanischen Keiserzeit und der fruhen Phase der Volkerwandersein im Mittleeuropaischen Barbaricum (Mainz am Rheine: P. von Zabern, 1985). She traces millefiori back to early Roman designs and includes maps, illustrations, and plates.

Marilyn Jenkins of the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art provides a basic history of the early Islamic glassmaking based upon 92 objects from the Museum’s collections in “Islamic Glass: A Brief History,” Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 44: 2 (Fall 1986). The history of glassmaking is traced from the early Islamic period 7th to 10th century to Venice in the late period from the 16th to 19th centuries. She explains how the technology travelled back to Persia as products (mirrors, beads, and windowpanes) via trade routes, and glass products were used as currency.

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