Beaded Necklace Among Slavic Women In History

ivanovgood (CC0), Pixabay

The word “beads” in the modern sense began to be used in the Russian language within the seventeenth century, until then, apparently, Slavs called this kind of decoration simply “necklace”, or in other words “that is worn around the neck.” Archaeologists often write in his works: ” …found a necklace of beads”. In fact, a string of often very large (about 1.5 cm in diameter) beads, similar or different,in  modern man is more likely to remind of the necklace, and not the beads that are seen as such today. In ancient times, beads were a favorite ornament of women from the northern Slavic tribes, while among the southern Slavs it was not so common. They were mostly made of glass up to the ninth and tenth centuries, mostly imported, as glass-making among Slavs could not satisfy the massive demand.

In the ancient trading city of Ladoga in the layer of the VIII century Archaeologists found pieces of slag that is produced in the cooking glass, as well as unfinished, defective beads. This has encouraged researchers and they began to look for the remains of the local glass-making workshop – “glass blacksmith.” Soon they caught the little refractory crucibles, but they were designed for casting bronze ornaments. Later, however, in the same layer  they have found “deposits” of quartz sand, and in a place where the sand could be moved only by human hands: one wonders why, if not for the glass melting? .. Scientists argue: some require hard evidence others say that all the necessary evidence has been found. The timing of his own glass-making in Ladoga thus be clarified.

Some beads have come from the Volkhov coast of Central Asia and others from the North Caucasus, others – from Syria, the fourth – all from the African continent, from the Egyptian workshops. The most interesting thing they were brought there by waterways in Western Europe – via the western lands (Slovakia, Moravia, Czech Republic) and the Baltic Slavs, who held out the exit to sea. Samples of beads found in Scandinavian countries, in shopping centers, known in those days around the Baltic “Mediterranean”: in the cities of Hedeby and Birka on the island of Gotland. These beads were taken and sold them to each other and the communities merchants – Slavic, Scandinavian and others. (By the way, it is possible that sometimes beads were not only a commodity – but more on that later.)

Since the ninth century in these cities except beads are imported and obviously made ​​on site … The scientists divided the ancient beads on a number of species , groups and subgroups, even to briefly describe all of them here is impossible. Let us look at least a few. Some beads were made ​​from the master pieces of glass rods that had several layers – most often yellow, white, red. “Glass smith” heats stick to the soft state, he separated forceps piece and pierced his sharp needle in it. In other cases, the basis for a large glass beads were prepared from all kinds of mixed colors (sometimes so in the case of fused, were remnants of defective beads). Then, if needed, on the basis of the “wound” a thin layer of glass of pure, beautiful colors: yellow, blue, red, green, purple, white, what you like (having mastered the cooking glass, Slavs soon learned to paint it, using the minerals deposits which were on their territory). These products obtained patterns that archaeologists call “eyes”: in fact, for example, red spot, surrounded by white, green and yellow rims, resembles the eye. There is an assumption that the “eyes” are responsible for not only aesthetic purposes. These beads were found:

Other beads, which should be mentioned – are the gold plated and silver-plated ones. Technique of silvering and gilding glass products, including beads, was mastered by masters of the Egyptian city of Alexandria before our era. Centuries later, the trend of gold or silver plating beads has reached out to North Europe. After the VI century AD, when the production of beads was massive and peope were wearing them all over Europe, craftsmen quickly learned to “moonlight” it: saving precious gold, covered beads in cheaper silver, and to give them the appearance of “gold” (and sell at the appropriate price) – poured on top of a transparent light-brown glass. With time archaeologists started to find a lot of fake beads as by the ninth century many were producing beads for mass productions out of lesser quality materials, but this mass production is a proof of how Slavs loved beads. They were made ​​in different colors: yellow (bright yellow and lemon), green, turquoise, cornflower blue, blue-gray, milky white, pink, red. Arab travelers mention that green beads (beads) were considered very prestigious among the Slavs and were a sign of wealth. Archaeologists come across “gold-plated” beads (in Ryazan-Oka region since the beginning of our era and to VIII century it was generally the main type of beads). M. Semenova

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