The cylinder beads shown to the right here are called Chevron beads. They are also African Trade beads. African Trade Beads were a form of currency during the 16th-18th Century. These Chevron beads were manufactured in Venice, Italy. It's a distinctive styled bead traced to Venice. See facts below.
- are traditionally made up of red, blue and white layers that were made in Venice, Italy as far back as the 1400s and used for trade throughout Africa and the New World . Known as Venetian Chevron beads, they have been traded most heavily in West Africa where they were first introduced by Dutch merchants in the late 15th century. Certain very small sized Venetian Chevron beads, also made during the late 1400s, are found exclusively in the Americas, mainly in Peru and attributed to having been introduced by Christopher Columbus. Today, Chevron beads are still very popular collectors' items and they are still highly valued in present day West Africa, where they continue to be worn for prestige and ceremonial purposes, and occasionally buried with the dead.
These Olive Wood Beads come from actual olive trees. You know those olives you like to have in your martini. Olive trees don't produce olives for drinks only, it is very significant as a religious symbol. My beads are from Bethlehem, Israel. (I orderded them online). It's claimed on the website that the "Olive Wood Beads are hand-made from the trimmings of the Bethlehem Holy Land olive tress by the patient Bible Artists". According to historians, the first olive groves took root in Bethlehem.
The Olive Tree has both a sentimental and religious significance to all nations and all religions. In the Old Testament, olive oil was used to anoint prophets and kings, and to light the lamps at the temple of Jerusalem, the house of God. For nourishment, healing, cleansing, lighting, and symbolic purposes, olive oil was important.
If you look really closely at the beads, no two beads look alike. Each one has a very distinct swirled grain pattern that is really beautiful. Olive wood beads are elegant yet rustic, and project a sense of natural beauty. As each bead comes from a different part of the tree, the grains are unique to each piece, giving a specifically interesting cohesion when strung together. The beads will darken with age, becoming richer in tone and even more unique.
The olive tree is a slow growing tree which fills during the first 7 years of it's life. It is especially productive thoughout her life. Growing to heights ranging from 10 to 40 feet (3 to 12 meters). Reaching the age of 200 the trunk disappears, shoots (to put forth buds) develop at the base of the trunk which eventually grow into a new tree, hence the reputation as the Immortal tree. Between April and June a multitude of small, white perfumed flowers appear in groups under the preceding year's leaves. They only last a few weeks. One olive is born for about 20 flowers. Normally the first flowering only takes place after about 8 years.
Next are the little brass beads, you see in between the Olive Wood Beads. These beads are called Munshi beads, which come from Nigeria. I did not order from Nigeria but bought from a really cool bead shop called Ritual Adornment in Santa Monica, CA. The owner travels to Africa to buy his beads. If you are ever in town, go to his store. The address is 2708 Main St. Their website is currently down.