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Rainbow coloured Bead Jewellery
2003 / AUGUST

In Turkey young girls and women have always expressed their hopes and dreams in hand crafts, using traditional motifs and forms to create functional and decorative objects that are each unique. Rural women never use makeup, but adorn themselves with colourful bead jewellery. Living in close contact with nature, they are inspired by the enchanting colours and shapes of birds, flowers, butterflies when making jewellery for themselves. In some parts of Turkey the adornment of young girls consists entirely of beadwork and needle lace, and when they marry their bridal dress is enhanced with bead jewellery. To celebrate the engagement their husbands-to-be present them with strings of many coloured beads, and overjoyed by the gift the girl invites relatives and neighbours to come and see her treasures, which to her are beautiful as precious gems. Passing the beads around from hand to hand, her visitors excitedly discuss ideas for the jewellery to be made from them.

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Rainbow coloured Bead Jewellery
2003 / AUGUST

Then the beads are divided out according to the designs decided upon, and everyone helps to thread them, singing folk songs as they work on necklaces known as gidiklik, breast ornaments known as döslük, bracelets, belts, hair fastenings, ornaments for the forehead and cheeks, and beaded lace. Bead ornaments require skill and time to make, but are inexpensive, and have therefore always been a popular form of personal ornament for Anatolian women. The use of beads is very ancient, going back to prehistoric times when beads were hung around the neck, around the hips, from the ears, attached to the nose, and even to the eyelashes. It is thought that the first beads used to make jewellery in the Palaeolithic age consisted of seeds, shells, small fossils and even mammoth teeth in which holes were pierced. The earliest Egyptian beads dating from the 4th millennium BC were mainly made from soapstone and covered with glaze fired to a glass-like substance. Gold beads were used in the 3rd millennium BC by the Sumerians and the civilisations of the Indus Valley.

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Rainbow coloured Bead Jewellery
2003 / AUGUST
Precious stones like green feldspar, lapis lazuli, turquoise, carnelian, hematite and purple ruby were also used to make beads. Beads served as a vehicle of barter, and were greatly valued by primitive societies. Glass beads made in Venice taken to America by the Spanish conquestadores were still used by tribes in Brazil until recent years. The native peoples of North and South America and Africa make a huge diversity of bead jewellery. In short, for peoples all over the world glass beads of many colours and shapes have been a valued form of adornment. Glass beads are faithful friends, being extremely durable, and retaining their shine and colour indefinitely. They are not affected by wear and tear, only shattering under a direct blow, nor are they harmed by water. They can be buried for thousands of years and emerge as bright as when they were first made. Bead jewellery can be made by the wearer, without need of a professional jeweller or an elegant shop window.
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Rainbow coloured Bead Jewellery
2003 / AUGUST
In Turkish villages bead ornaments are used by people of all ages, from birth to death, since they often serve not only as ornaments but to avert the evil eye and protect from illness. As charms they not just used by people, but hung on animals, trees, houses and important possessions. Blue bead charms can be seen hung around the necks of goats, cows, oxen and other lifestock, and attached to the manes and tails of horses. Traditional motifs of bead jewellery are often associated with beliefs and superstitions, speaking a visual language whose origins are lost in the mists of time. That is why you find the same motifs incorporated into the patterns of knitted socks, kilims, carpets, fabrics, lace, embroidery, wood and stone carving, and decorations on the walls of cottages. They are part of a culture and belief system that encompasses every sphere of life and is reflected in hand crafts. Women make an important contribution to such crafts, which are an expression of their creativity and inner world of emotion.
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Rainbow coloured Bead Jewellery
2003 / AUGUST

In the cities, too, women enjoy wearing modern bead jewellery. In the fashion centres of the world beads can be found in the form of jewellery, or embroidered on clothing, bags, belts and shoes. In short, everyone loves beads, whose diversity and versatility suit them to a never-ending range of designs and styles. Beads in the myriad colours of the rainbow stimulate the imagination to conjure up a kaleidoscope of patterns. They have fascinated and delighted people everywhere for thousands of years and will continue to do so for generations to come.

* Sabiha Tansug is an ethnologost, researcher and writer. The bead jewellery illustrated here is from her own collection

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