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Necklace antique Nila beads (Dardig)

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Lenght: 42 cm

Weight: 32 grs


A beautiful necklace made with a superb combination of antique Islamic Nila glass beads sourced in Mali. The size of these beads is somewhat larger than usual and are locally know as “Dardig”. Nila beads are small monochrome Islamic glass beads than can be found in colors ranging mostly from blue, green and white to yellow were quite widespread in West Africa. They are also referred to as Indo-Pacific or Trade Winds beads in reference to the winds that for centuries were used by the merchant ships bringing them from India. Large quantities of these small and charming beads have been found in archaeological sities along the river banks of the Niger river in Mali where sometimes not only beads but also hollow canes have been found to produce them locally. The word Nila would come from the Sanskrit term for indigo.

When referring to Islamic beads we follow bead expert Robert K. Liu’s description in Ornament Magazine: “The term Islamic Period Glass Beads is used, similarly to Roman Period Beads, to classify groups of ornaments from specific geographic areas and time periods, with recognizable characteristics including patterns and techniques. In the case of Islamic glass beads we know they originated in the Middle East and flourished mostly between the seventh and twelfth centuries. Their designs display a wide mix of techniques and styles: millefiori/mosaic (including pierced mosaic pad beads), trailed, filigreed, combed, fused rods, segmented/blown, folded (an Islamic innovation, Holland and Holland 2006) and those derived from amulet shapes, like charmcase beads with loops.” Islamic glass beads travelled from their sources of production in the Middle and Near East together with the expansion of Islam to North Africa, Southern Europe (Spain), India and the Far East and they reached areas well beyond Islam’s actual limits of expansion such as Northern Europe. They also flowed into Sub-Saharan Africa, where they were valued and cherished for centuries in the Malian ancient kingdoms as a symbol of status and played an important role in the communities’ rites and ceremonies such a burials, initiation or dowries.

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