Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ostrich Eggshell beads

I like to use the ostrich eggshell beads in my designs. They add a different texture and contrast when paired with the reclaimed Trade beads.

Ostrich eggshell beads are the most common ornaments found in Later Stone Age sites in Africa.  Some were recently recovered from a site in the Serengeti National Park Tanzania, are  believed to be about 70,000 years old, according to a team of scientists.  The research was supported in part by the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration and the Leakey Foundation.

The ostrich is the largest living bird in the world today, found in it's natural habitat only in Africa.  However, there is evidence that ostrich roamed over many parts of Asia, including India, in the past.

Ostrich eggshell beads are made by shaping and perforating small fragments of eggshell.  Beads were made by women. With a stone, the eggshell is broken into small pieces.  The pieces are pierced with an iron awl, then threaded onto a strip of sinew.  Then the strand of eggshell pieces are laid down on a hard surface as the rough edges were chipped off with a horn.  The strand was then tightened between two knots by having the fibers twisted between them.  This resulted in the strand becoming very solid and rigid like a stick. This "stick" was then rested on a piece of hard wood and ground with a course-grained stone, to the desired size.

Today, ostrich eggshell beads are still being made by the Sun Bushmen women of the Kalahari Desert. To the San Bushmen, ostrich eggshell beads are symbolic of good luck/good fortune.

bevsbeadz.comVisit my website and see if you can spot these beads within my designs!