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Antique Pearlized Medium Sized Glass Nila Beads from Mali - Rita Okrent Collection (AT0637)

3 items in stock

Gorgeous strands of medium sized white and worn mixed color glass medium nila beads with a lovely mother-of-pearl quality to them.

Just a few of these special strands in stock. 

23-24 inches of beads per strand. Bead are graduated and range from 6-13m with some tiny beads sometimes at the end..These larger cousins of Nila beads are also referred to as Dardig beads.

“Medium” is a relative term comparing these to smaller glass Mali nila beads from our shops.

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.

Strands sold individually. Strands photographed are available. Each strand differs a little, but all are similarly nice and close to the same length. I have located a few more of these strands, so now there are some listed that are not photographed, but all are in the same family.

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.

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:

African Item 0637

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