Ranging from tiny glass seed beads to large hand-carved wooden ones, bead-makers in India have explored a variety of materials, styles and treatments. Even without the tools of the modern industry, these artisans have explored their imagination and creativity to offer an exquisite array of colorful beads that may be some of the most unique in the world.
What’s So Special about Indian Beads?
Rudraksha prayer beads on strings are a commonplace sight with very uncommon origins. These beads are created from the seeds of a tree, which makes each one unique and 100% natural. A high value is placed on multiple facets, which are rare and considered to be very auspicious. Prayer beads are often made of sandalwood, tulsi wood, stone or agate too, some of which are renowned to have healing or meditative powers.
There are some bead styles that are unique to our country, having originated here, and the secrets of their making were closely guarded for centuries. Kashmiri beads, Meenakari beads and Jaipuri beads are some well-known examples - each created with specific techniques and immensely popular for jewelry and accessories.
India is also home to the fascinating lac beads, which are created by the secretion of tiny tree-dwelling insects. The material is gathered by hand, crushed, cleaned and then heated to form a malleable clay-like substance that can be colored, shaped and adhered to other surfaces. A humble origin for some beautiful beads!
Silver, clay and terracotta beads, as well as carved soapstone, bone/horn and wooden beads, are all made by hand, with designs that range from simple geometric shapes to intricate lattice-work. Lampwork beads form a huge section of India’s bead exports, with intricate designs and a rainbow of colors – each one is unique and cannot be replicated.
Indian beads are used in jewelry all over the world, but that’s not all they’re good for. These delectable decorations adorn everything from everyday clothing, bags and shoes to heavy bridal and festive wear. No bride can resist a lehenga or sari with gorgeous zari or aari work embroidery - and colorful crystals, pearls or glass beads that sparkle in the light!
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