This Week’s Theme: Beads
From the Victoria and Albert Museum in London comes this image of Italian 17th – 18th century single-colored, variegated, white and clear glass beads known as aggry beads. Along with trading them for gold, more significantly, European traders used them for trading slaves in Africa.
From VAM about aggry beads:
The beads were popular as glassmaking was uncommon in Africa, making them unusual and precious. They were particularly valued and sought after in West Africa, where they were often used in the creation of high-status decorative art objects, for example in the Asante (Ashanti) necklace from Ghana, probably worn by a member of the court.
The beads’ history dates to the 15th century when Portuguese trading ships arrived on the coast of West Africa to exploit its many resources, including gold, slaves, ivory and palm oil. At that time, glass beads were a major part of the currency exchanged for people and products. The beads proved to be a cheap and efficient means of exploiting African resources, especially as glassmaking technologies developed in Europe.
As noted in an email from a follower of the MotD blog site:
January and February are the months in which we most acknowledge and honor the painful and proud legacy of the African American struggle toward equity. Perhaps there is hope in the beauty of the work that was ultimately made, and the creation of native work in the manner of the European and Indian beads — even though the beads themselves were used to buy human beings. ~ T.H. (thank you, TH, well said)
Horrifically, slavery and human trafficking still exists around the world today as noted on FreetheSlaves.net.
Inspiration for Today
I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.
~ Simone de Beauvoir