Drawer 43: Mali Wedding Beads

“First Person Narrator”

Week 43/Drawer 43: October 25, 2017: “First Person Narrator”

In rural Mali, West Africa, a bride is given a strand of these glass wedding beads on the eve of her wedding. It is the Fulani tribe, which is 2.5 million strong, that has decorated their daughters with beads for over a century.  For equally as long, these pressed glass* bulbous beads were expressly made for the African trade in Bohemia*.  The Fulani tribe likes them because their shape is so feminine.  They were originally made in that shape from local clay; the glass ones gave families a new sense of style and status.

I ended up reading a lot about Mali, formerly French Sudan, which became truly independent with democratic elections in 1992. This land-locked country is twice the size of Texas and now has a population of 18 million.  The Sahara Desert takes up 68% of the acreage.  Many tribes are semi-nomads.  And guess who is a minority tribe in the desert?  The famous traders we met in Drawer 12—the Tuaregs!**

It was delightful reading about weddings: only Thursday or Sunday are good luck days for marriage; first a civil marriage in which the bride and groom individually state whether they want a monogamous or polygamous marriage.  Choice of the former has always been limited to single digits.  Then the bride is washed by the female adults; an Islamic ceremony follows; then there are several days of celebrating when family drops by.  Since families are polygamous with many members, they have to introduce themselves to each other!  The groom’s dowry is as many kola nuts (a stimulant) as he can afford which he presents to his father-in-law who shares it with wedding guests.

I admit to being culturally fascinated by Mali, but I must move on to the necklace. It sits on the neck as pictured:  the very center lies flat and, as it curves up to the neck, some beads rest on top of each other, creating a certain movement.  Each bead is separated by an interesting small Venetian glass bead that is clear with thin, closely-placed white stripes, resulting in a milky tone.

Each bead is 1” high and 5/8” diameter. It doesn’t feel heavy to me, but it may be a three-hour necklace for some:  a party necklace; a ladies lunch necklace.  When I put it on after weighing myself, the digital scale did not change.

It is 18” and earrings are included. The clasp and the ear piece are matching hammered silver metal.  $115.

*See Drawer 30 dated 7-26-17 for Bohemia and pressed glass story.

**See Drawer 12 dated 3-22-17 for the Tuareg story.

Drawer 38: Semi-Precious Gem Stones: Chrysoprase

 

“Heart’s Desire”

My Chinese Apothecary Chest:   in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during my husband’s ex-pat assignment.   Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers, mostly sorted by color.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 38/Drawer 38: September 20, 2017: “Heart’s Desire”

If Chrysoprase isn’t a challenge to pronounce, try this: it is a cryptocrystalline which means it is composed of extra-fine crystals.  To me that is perfectly evident when I look at the translucence sparkling from the inside to the surface.  And BTW, this wonderfulness exists because the crystals have a trace of nickel in them!

 

 

The minty green color of the beads I am using in this necklace is the most popular of its several shades.

The rocks of chrysoprase I saw in my research all had brown streaks running through them.

That the cutters kept some brown is the feature that caused me to buy two strands  of these beads.

In sharp but pleasant contrast to the minty green is the solid honey brown of the two brown chrysoprase centerpieces and the earrings.  The contrast  gives this chrysoprase necklace real personality!

 

I am not a metaphysical user of crystals, but my research indicates chrysoprase is a major heart chakra: “its relaxing and serene vibes help cool the intense emotions of anxiety, especially if you place it over your heart”.  Another quote:  “the strong flow of healing energy through the heart boosts circulation and brings you closer to living from the heart and embracing universal love”.  Pretty nice way to exist…

The clasp and earwires are vermeil which is 14 karat gold over silver.  This two strand necklace measures 18”; and earrings are included.  $99.

 

Drawer 4: Wood

drawer-4-5My Apothecary Chest: It arrived via container to California from Hong Kong in 1994 after an ex-pat assignment there; where I discovered beading; my repository of many beads.

2017 Challenge:  from 52 drawers of Beads; Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time.  Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 4/Drawer 4: January 25, 2017: “Celtic Turf”

Opening Drawer 4 full of wood beads was a big letdown. Wood is brown!  Brown is boring!  It took an Irish Claddagh and scented rosewood to bring life to brown beads!

The Claddagh symbol has been worn as a ring since Roman times; the hands, heart and crown symbolize friendship, love and loyalty. It became an Irish icon in 1637 when the design was approved by Charles I.  It was named after a small fishing village in Galway.  I bought this Claddagh during my first and only trip to Ireland to discover my ancestral land.

The title of this necklace is Celtic Turf for a reason: the centerpiece is made from ancient turf, or black peat soil, found in bogs all around Ireland.  This turf can be 5000 years old.  Interesting fact:  Ireland’s decayed organic matter is the most efficient carbon sink on the planet.

The rosewood beads have their own story to tell. Called red sandalwood in the Indian culture, these beads ask the god Ganesh to remove obstacles.  And it is believed their scent calms the immune system.  There is only a vague scent remaining with these beads I bought in Asia in 1993-4, my first year of a long love affair with beads.

I’ve learned a lesson. Not all of the 48 remaining drawers will be exciting, but they will be interesting because they have their own special stories to reveal.

Wear this necklace with your own sterling silver earrings.

The necklace is 25” long plus a 2.5” centerpiece.  $69.00