By Kim Dailey |Staff Writer|
CSUSB’s Anthropology Museum is hosting “Beads,” an exhibit displaying different beads and bead work, located on the third floor of the Social and Behavioral Science building.
A grand opening reception was held on Tuesday, May 15 from 5-7 p.m. and served refreshments to those who attended, which were about 45 students, faculty and local residents.
There are six tall display glass cases and four bulletin board with different types of beads and jewelry. Displayed are summaries on each item that say how they were made, where they come from and what they represent to each culture.
Beads and bead work on display included an Iroquois wampum belt, Transylvanian women’s collars, a Blackfoot umbilical amulet, African trade beads and prayer beads.
A summary board stated, “Beads were one of the worlds first commodities. An item made expressly to be traded.”
For many centuries, beads have represented and expressed many different cultural and religious beliefs from around the world.
“Beads were also an ideal subject for commerce since they require a great deal of labor to produce and were often of rare or expensive materials. They were light enough to be transported easily and durable enough to survive normal handling with little damage,” according to a summary board in the museum.
There are many shapes, sizes, decorations and types of beads in the world. Some types of beads are made from animals, plants, minerals, sand, bone, coral, horns, ivory, seeds, animal shell, pottery, glass, stones, metals and different types of wood.
The summary board stated that more beads have been made of glass than all other materials combined. Glass beads were usually found in sub-Saharan Africa and were manufactured in India.
They are now commonly used as personal adornment and in the past were often exchanged as prestige goods, stated the exhibit.
One item on display was a type of jewel that had a resemblance of an eye. In Sumeria, in the third millennium B.C. they would refer to this as the evil eye.
The belief is that the malevolent forces can enter a person through the eye and can cause harm, poor judgement or even death. Folks believed by having this bead on or around them would help prevent those bad events from occurring.
Student Gloria Doran’s favorite type of beads are Amber beads, which are fossilized resin of coniferous trees. “I’m learning a lot about beads and how they have different significances to each culture,” said Doran.
The Tibetan Mala necklace on display used 108 bone beads that were divided into four sections by mismatched large beads.
The amount of beads and each bead placement resemble and represent a part of a person’s cultural prayer and their beliefs against evil.
Student Dominic Taylor was walking around taking pictures of all the different beads and bead work. “I like the realness. They are or seem to be real artifacts, not clones,” said Taylor.
On display was a wampum loom hand made belt and the machine that was used to make the belt. It took about 20 hours for the weaving alone and by adding in the time required to make nearly 1600 wampum beads. The belt was usually worn for hospitality or a type of welcome ceremony.
There are many different cultural backgrounds and beliefs represented behind each of the beads and bead work that the museum had on display.
The Museum hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. If you have a chance, go check it out.