Beads date to the origins of humankind. They have served as currency, conveyed social and political messages, and expressed human creativity.

Highlights

Bracelet

1995 USA

This polymer clay bracelet showcases the instinctual talent of Pier Voulkous

Crown with Veil

20th Century Nigeria

These beaded crowns are revered objects in Yorubaland as the essence of sacred rulership.

Beaded Necklace

1980-90 Kenya

Each one of these 112 colorful beaded strands has a hidden meaning.

Chevron Bead Strand

16th-17th century Africa

Produced in the millions and traded worldwide, these beads were highly valued and used as currency to purchase goods.

Necklace (Ainu Bead Necklace)

19th Century Japan

This highly prized necklace would have been part of an Ainu woman’s attire for formal occasions.

Purse

1880s-1920s France

Hundreds of tiny steel cut beads, adorn this vintage tapestry style fringed purse.