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jade hookSAVE 20% WITH SAVE20 COUPON for this and anything else in the shop. This is a lovely hand-carved pendant of natural Nephrite Jade from New Zealand. The hei matu, or fish hook, has endured since pre-colonial times (prior to the 18th century) and symbolizes abundance, and a respect for sea. The design represents the special relationship Maori people have with fishing (historically they lived from fisheries and depended on the sea for food gathering) and Tangaroa, god of the sea. Designs range from the ultra-realistic through to more conceptual styles, and wearing one is said to bring good fortune when traveling across oceans.

This beautiful piece measures approx. 45 mm long (approx.. 1 3/4") x approx. 23 mm. (just shy of 1") at its widest point. Thickness is approx. 3 mm. Hole at top for hanging is approx. 3 mm. wide.

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funky beads 2As you likely have learned on your own or via some of my previous posts, beads have a profound and interesting history. In cultures around the world, they have had a wide variety of purpose and meaning; here are a few interesting facts I may not have mentioned before.

Beads can signify strength and courage

Many modern day cultures use beads to show bravery and accomplishment – as with a medal of honor, an award ribbon or a certificate. Through the ages, they have been used to protect warriors of both genders from natural and supernatural enemies, along with providing special magical protection during long journeys.

Beads have a practical nature for every day purposes

They have been used throughout history as prayer tools (think rosaries), calculators (the abacus), and to secure scrolls, saddle blankets and tablecloths. Today still, we see beads in use in mats, curtains and car seats.

Beads have value

Beads have been traded for gold, ivory, spices, beaver pelts, and sadly, even slaves. Artisans throughout the ages have dedicated their lives to creating beads from innumerable materials -- tortoise shells, wood, pottery, sea shells, seed, ivory, stone, egg shells, animal teeth, bone, claw and horn, glass, and more.

Beads have been believed to carry protective and healing powers

turquoise chain braceletIn Egyptian, the word ‘sha’ means ‘luck’, and ‘sha-sha’ means ‘bead’. In Turkey, the ‘Magical Eye Bead’ or ‘Evil Eye’ is thought to ward off evil. In parts of Asia, beads were scattered at temples, like seeds, to summon bountiful harvests.

Beads signal status

In China, during the Qing Dynasty, people of status such as officers, officials and their families were required to wear strings of court beads. Even the Emperor had to wear special beads. In Africa, the kings and other great ones of the Asante people have the privilege of wearing Bodom beads. In our own society, we often use gemstone beads, pearls and other precious materials to signify wealth and prestige.

People have been fascinated with beads for over 43,000 years. I’m proud to be part of the ongoing tradition! How about you?

In celebration of the awesome BEAD, I’ve included some photos of work from a selection of favorite bead artisans. At the top right is Staci Louise Smith’s astounding creation – be sure to check out her blog Love My Art Jewelry to learn about her process and see more of her beautiful work.

An ultra-fun bracelet of chain and turquoise by Erin of heartsabustin on Etsy, at the upper left.

And at the lower right, stunning watermelon tourmaline earrings by Debra of studioonthepond on Etsy.

tourmaline earringsIf you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Greek Worry Beads

The History of Beads

and

African Kazuri Beads

Until Next Time,

Sheila

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