A Gau Box and a Tibetan Bead Adventure

“Tibetan Gau Box”

 

In 1993-4, Don and I lived in Hong Kong.  I discovered ethnic beads at the fabulous bazaars located in alleys and byways and became enamored of the giant orange and yellow beads that were described as those worn by Tibetan nomads.  I asked Don to take me to Tibet on one of his business trips to Beijing.  Ha!  Impossible since it is located on a 5000’ high plateau in distant southwest China.

So I convinced him to have an adventure travel vacation in Tibet.  Be informed adventure travel translates as difficult travel, as in one-star or no-star accommodations, toilets that range from pots under the bed to blackened porcelain with no seat, mattresses that feel like plywood, walking a lot, crossing the Himalayan mountains with a view of Everest in a jitney without any shock absorbers…a trip to Katmandu, Nepal, that took 24 hours including the overnight accommodations described above.

The pleasures of adventure travel are close-ups of the native population, interesting food, cultural immersion, different religions.  And beads.  No bead shops, just go to the village square and the traders find you.  Whew.  The first lesson is to push away the crowds, establish some control, and patiently look, point, and bargain.  What wild memories!

These Gau boxes were my most unusual finds!  Today’s necklace features an excellent specimen.  I paid $100 for it and it is $490 on Etsy as I looked for one today.  As you know, I don’t mark up the original price I paid.  No need to, since you, my dear readers, are looking for an interesting necklace, not a collector’s item for a display case.

Gau (sometimes Gao) boxes are antiques today, less than 30 years after our first visit.  We returned again in the late 90’s and the change was sad—China had infiltrated Han Chinese into Tibet in a massive relocation program to dilute Tibetan culture.  As a result, many Tibetans have crossed the mountains into Nepal where they are respected in their enclaves

These boxes contain Buddhist paper prayers and relics folded into the box, and worn around the neck, near one’s heart, by Tibetan nomads or travelers.  It also is an amulet to ward off negative energy and attract blessings (just like those fluttering strings of flags placed in the mountains).  Like any antique, they have patina, the fancy word for wear marks and nicks over time.

This necklace is 24” from clasp to bottom of box which is 2.5” diameter and 5/8” thick.   The clasp is hammered pewter.  The necklace weighs 7.7 ounces.  The set is $195.

The beads are dyed coral shell pearls.  These pearls are made from the lining of oyster shells, ground, shaped, dyed, and coated with a lustrous shine.  They do not lose color or shine due to sweat or perfume.  I also like them because they come in large sizes for a reasonable price.

At the beginning and end of the necklace and in the earrings are other Tibetan beads with silver decorative endcaps.  The beads in those endcaps and the center of the Gao Box are the same orange beads I first saw in Hong Kong…seems they come in all sizes. 

These are two other Gau Boxes I bought on that trip.  They are shaped like shrines which is another use of the Gau Box.  The large one is a wonderful speciman with many cultural icons carved in the silver and a wonderful polychromed deity in the window.

The small one is so old the silver plate wore off to its copper base.

 

 

 

 

 

A Max Moment

I dare not disappoint Max’s followers.  Here he is trying to dismember his stuffed  toy, but his smart Mom bought him a leather toy and it takes a really long time for him to destroy it.  Approaching 28 months.

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Postscript:  I imagine there are prayers and relics still in these boxes but I am afraid of ruining them if I attempt to open/close the boxes, so I don’t.  I just imagine.  I encourage readers to use their imagination also.

Dreaming the Dream

Greetings!  This is the fourth, and maybe the last, necklace I will have made in the Era of Coronavirus-19.  Let us pray this virus ends soon.

The shutdown is mostly over in Boston.  Some people are thrilled to be liberated;  most practice social distancing and/or wearing masks; some prefer to remain inside; others are elsewhere on the Bell Curve.  It’s all OK.  My motto throughout has been “Be informed and carry on.”  But I am fortunate that I have no underlying conditions except my age.

Speaking of age, in one week I shall wake up and be 78 years old and embrace the beginning of another year of my existence.  I wonder if Max understands he is responsible for keeping my life full of laughter?  The crazy Doodles are most capable of that task!

The Necklace:  “Dreaming the Dream”

“Dreaming the Dream”

This necklace will always make me smile because I remember buying the eight large blown glass beads in a beautiful plaza directly on a canal in my beloved Venice in spring 2019.  The cobalt blue and azure aqua are such refreshing watery signs of summer that I wanted this necklace to be July’s choice, my birth month.  We Cancers are water signs as personified in the Hermit Crab (as well as nesters as personified by the home they carry on their backs).

All the beads I used are glass in those two colors; the 4-sided ones near the top are vintage as are the curvaceous ones under them.  The clasp supports the watery theme with its sand design (as I interpret it…) and a well-crafted starfish in pewter.  Matching earrings using the vintage beads and silverplate earwires.  The necklace is 21” long.  $119 the set plus $10 shipping since it will need to be double boxed.

A Max Moment

Max is happy and almost 2 ¼ years old.  He is calmer each month.  A charmer.  Very cooperative. And indulgent of his septuagenarian Mom.

I have told you he is a curious dog and zeros in on what attracts his attention.   I have featured him focusing on a plane in the sky, watching TV, and here he is, intent on the road as I drive him to playtime.  There he will meet up with bro Ralphie.  Oh, the latest news is the two bros have let a third Doodle bro, Milo, into the play-pack.  They both greeted him after our short ride and dashed out to play.

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Last month I made some edits after I published and when my blog appeared in your inbox, it was messed up.  If you want a glimpse of what last month’s necklace looked like, it is available on http://www.priscillabeadle.com.