Ancient Glass Deep Blue Green Teal Mixed Medium Sized Nila Beads from Mali - Rita Okrent Collection (AT0645)

2 items in stock

Gorgeous strands of excavated green blue and teal medium glass nila beads strands with mixed wear, from Mali.

Circa early Islamic period - approximately 900-1600 A.D.

24 inches of beads per strand. Beads are graduated and range from 6-12mm.

These larger cousins of Nila beads are also referred to as Dardig beads. “Medium” is a relative term comparing these to smaller glass nila beads from our shops.

Strands sold individually. Strands photographed are samples. Each strand differs a little, but all are similarly nice and close to the same length. Yours will resemble these closely.

Nila / dardig beads are the Islamic-era glass beads than can be found in colors ranging from blue, green, red, black, white to yellow that are widespread in West Africa. They are sometimes also referred to as Indo-Pacific or Trade Winds beads, in reference to the ocean streams and winds that, for centuries, were used by the Arab merchant ships bringing them from India to Africa. They often have oxidization patina from burial and age. Large quantities have been found along the river banks of the Niger river in Mali and buried in large quantities in clay pots, used as a form of currency. They are also found in the ground in parts of West Africa and Southeast Asia. The name "Nila" comes from the Sanskrit term for indigo.

The colors of the beads in these strands come out when treated very gently with a tiny bit of olive oil (rub a little on your hands and then handle the beads). These beads also could be cleaned with water to bring out more color, as in the photos showing darker beads - some of the white color is patina due to age and burial. Expect some natural variation between strands from the color pictured and between strands. These beads can also be left as is.

As research and technology evolves, there is a greater ability to verify glass bead making by local manufacture in West Africa.
Some useful reference articles:
https://theconversation.com/how-we-found-the-earliest-glass-production-south-of-the-sahara-and-what-it-means-142059

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317775780_Ancient_History_of_Technology_in_West_Africa_The_Indigenous_GlassGlass_Bead_Industry_and_the_Society_in_Early_Ile-Ife_Southwest_Nigeria


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gao

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songhai_Empire


African Item 0645

Rita's Story

Rita became interested in making jewelry in the early 1970s when she took a silversmithing class through the local community college. By the mid-1970’s, she had developed an interest in ethnic and tribal beads and artifacts and began designing necklaces. In 1977-1978, Rita and the family lived abroad as Rita’s husband, David, a professor at UCLA, was on sabbatical leave. Rita always had a good eye for interesting items, but on this extended 14-month trip she was able to explore and buy from dealers in the souks of Israel and Egypt, flea markets in London, Paris and Vienna and from sellers in Hong Kong and China, Iran and India. On each trip, she searched for ancient and antique beads and pendants, for small antiquities and for unusual artifacts.

Upon returning to the U.S., Rita established her collection and focused, in particular, on designing necklaces using ancient and antique materials such as amazonite, amber, amethyst, coral, faience, glass, horn, ivory, jade, jet, shell and silver. She often combined these beads with a central pendant or several pendants, in designing ethnic, one-of-a-kind necklaces. She designed her own hand-made, sterling silver hook-and-eye clasps, which we still make available in our Clasps section. She continued to develop her bead expertise and became an active member and President of the Los Angeles-area Bead Society. Rita held trunk shows from her home showroom and displayed at the Los Angeles Gift Show, as well as consigning items to many local L.A. stores and boutiques, including Saks Fifth Avenue. Rita’s work and collection was featured in Ornament Magazine and she contributed beads to the editor, Robert Liu with his now classic book, “Collectible Beads.”

Rita traded with merchants from Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and other parts of Africa for more than twenty-five years, providing her with an extensive and unusual collection of African Trade beads, as well as African wall hangings and wood carvings and masks. Rita’s collection grew as she continued to travel and live abroad over the years, including travels to Syria, Egypt, Israel, and Morocco. (Her collection of Egyptian, Bedouin and Yemeni silver is still being cataloged.) Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Rita’s reputation continued to grow as a designer of original necklaces and as a dealer of exquisite ethnic and antique beads and artifacts.

Rita passed away from a long illness in 2005. Rita’s husband, David, built her website in 1999 with the assistance of a graduate student, and maintained it and the collection until 2008. The online store and collection are now managed by their daughter, Jocelyne, based in the San Diego area.

The beauty of Rita’s original creations and of her outstanding collection are reflected in our store and website. Our customers, both collectors and designers, come to us from around the world. We appreciate your business. Thank you for visiting the Rita Okrent Collection!

Shipping

SHIPPING

USPS 1st Class Shipping is FREE for all U.S. orders.

USPS 1st Class International Shipping is now discounted to $8.00 for orders of $74.99 or less, and is free for orders above $75.00.

For China and India, we recommend Priority Mail or Express Mail International due to better tracking.

Let us know if you have questions regarding shipping - we are happy to help.

We will NOT use private shippers, freight forwarders or other private carriers to ship orders.

Note: if your order's shipping cost is less than we've charged you, we will credit you back for the difference, via your payment method.

UPON RECEIPT

Please contact us immediately in case of damage during shipping. We will do everything we can to help you locate your package via USPS (or other shipper) tracking information. The Rita Okrent Collection is not responsible for lost items that are shipped via shipping methods that do not provide tracking.

Returns

At the Rita Okrent Collection, we want you to be completely satisfied with your purchase. Items purchased from the Rita Okrent Collection in sale-able condition can be returned for a full refund within 30 days of receipt or 45 days of purchase. Please notify us with the reason for your return (via ritaokrent@gmail.com). You are responsible for return shipping and insurance to the Rita Okrent Collection.

Please ship your purchases back to:

The Rita Okrent Collection
1585 Hillsmont Drive
El Cajon, California 92020
USA

Store Reviews

Join our List

Join our email list!