As you walk through the African Village you will find strands and strands of beads in various shapes and sizes. All this can be a bit overwhelming but it’s worth taking your time and finding the right items for you.
Trade beads formed an important factor in early trade networks between Europe and Africa. The beads themselves were typically made in Italy, France, Germany, Bohemia (the Czech Republic) and the Netherlands and were used in trade in Africa. The beads’ history dates to the 15th century when European trading ships arrived on the coasts of Africa bringing gold, ivory, glass beads and other commodities to this region. The beads were uncommon in this region and were viewed as precious goods. The beads were adopted and used as a symbol of status.
The vibrant colors are typical of African style. The unique patterns and colors makes collecting these beads fun and interesting.
This year I bought some African amber resin beads. Don’t be fooled this is not the fossilized tree resin Amber. These beads are made by mixing liquid resin with a hardener and color. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices. I also picked up some vinyl beads, glass beads, seed beads and Christmas beads!!
If you have an opportunity to visit an African trade bead vendor do so. Ask questions and learn about the amazing journey some of these little beauties have made to get you!