Thursday, December 23, 2010

Antique imitation dZi beads made from glass and an imitation 
nine eye dZi bead (ceramic). Sourced in Nepal.  

Smallest bead 15.19 mm x 13.40 mm

Ancient rock crystal bead. Sourced in Nepal. 15 mm

Ancient faceted rock crystal bead. Sourced in Nepal. 13.75 mm x 11.25 mm

Thursday, December 09, 2010

An ancient agate eye bead (convex shape on both sides). Western Asiatic. This bead has no noticeable crystalline banding that forms an eye, nor has it been decorated with an eye design. So in this case it is the shape of the bead that indicates it as being an eye amulet. James Lankton places a similar bead (no.208) on his timeline and dates it to around 4000 BCE. 30 mm x 25 mm x 10 mm

Monday, November 29, 2010

Imitation Sakor Namkor sourced in North India (2010). 39.07 mm x 13.91.

This is an uncommon imitation Sakor Namkor dZi bead, created from quartz and with black decorated lines. I do not know of any ancient dZi beads made purely from quartz and so this tells us immediately that this is a new creation. All ancient dZi are created from agate and in some rare cases carnelian, which are both distinct varieties of Chalcedony. Bead makers in antiquity favoured Chalcedony because it is more porous than the more abundant quartz material. This greatly increases the potential for colour alteration, which in turn enhances the appearance of natural banding in the stone. Dark agate beads (browns and blacks) were clearly favoured in antiquity, and this colour was mainly achieved by soaking the agate in various chemical solutions for long periods and heating the material to allow the solution to permanently darken the stone. On the bead above, the lines may have been carved into the stone and then filled with an unknown black substance. It has then been polished so that the decoration is flush with the surface. The quartz has not been dyed or treated to alter the colour unlike ancient dZi.

Above: A small ancient decorated carnelian (12 mm x 5 mm) 
with a pinkish white body and dark lines. 
The colour is probably the
result of fire damage.

We do see ancient white stone beads with dark lines, however, most have probably been damaged by excessive heat at the time of being made or as a result of a funeral pyre. Sometimes this appearance is attributed to beads being buried for long periods but this is still unproven. Ancient decorated carnelians (also known as etched carnelians) will sometimes display a white body with black lines (Beck classifies this as Type II). It is unlikely that this was the intention of the bead maker because the overall result is usually quite crude. Ancient dZi beads that display crystalline areas or translucent banding on the body, are a clear testament to colour treatments not being able to take to the crystalline areas--and so this is why we do not see ancient dZi beads made purely from this material. 

Friday, November 19, 2010


An uncommon carved stone pendant (jasper?). Possibly in the form of a kartika or tantric flaying knife. This clearly displays great age and is believed to be ancient. Sourced in North India from a Tibetan dZi trader. 32.22 mm x 10.51 mm

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ancient agate eye bead. Sourced from a Tibetan trader in North India. 26.72 mm x 19.67 mm

A large ancient Chong dZi bead. Displays two decorated equatorial stripes. 43 mm x 14.11 mm

Friday, October 15, 2010

A large Western Asiatic ancient Sardonyx bead with a natural eye formation. 47.45 mm x 30.07 mm x 26.12 mm (depth).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A 'new' dZi bead with one eye. Sourced in North India. The perforation has also been slightly worked to give the appearance of old wear. 31 mm x 15.5 mm

Saturday, September 04, 2010


A Tibetan woman (1930s) wears a necklace comprised of ancient dZi, banded agates (also known as Bhaisajyaguru dZi), coral and a large amulet or gau box. Gaus with the 'two intersecting squares' design were apparently very fashionable in Lhasa from "at least the middle of the 19th century". According to John Clarke (Victoria and Albert Museum Curator) this symbolises two crossed dorjes or a double vajra. They can often be made from silver or gold and can be inlaid with a variety of semi-precious stones, more commonly with coral and turquoise. These days similar gaus may even contain precious stones like rubies and diamonds and display a chosen deity on the front. The gau might contain a wealth of sacred items that have been blessed by revered Lamas. They might also contain relics, mantras, a small statue or Tsa Tsa and are regarded as one of the most important family heirloom pieces.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A lovely tabular agate eye bead from Great Britain. It was aquired from the famous Keith Mitchell gem collection, and is believed to be from the Georgian era (1714 to 1830). Agate eye beads and pendants were once popular in the UK, probably reaching their peak in jewellery use during the Victorian period. An agate brooch (commonly set with a 'bulls eye' agate) were particularly favoured in Victorian times. 38 mm x 27 mm x 12 mm.

A matched pair of ancient Tasso dZi beads.  
largest 29.35 mm x 13.40 mm Smallest 28.09 mm x 13.10 mm

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A large matched pair of ancient Tasso dZi beads flank an ancient Tiger dZi.  
Tasso dZi approx 30 mm x 13 mm Tiger dZi 18.12 mm x 14.91 mm

Monday, August 02, 2010

Various ancient stone beads. All sourced in Nepal.

Ancient carnelian beads. Sourced in Nepal.

Ancient blue chalcedony beads.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ancient banded agate or Bhaisajyaguru bead. Sourced in Nepal. 16.51 mm

Monday, July 05, 2010

Ancient jasper eye amulet (Western Asia).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Two banded agate tabular eye beads from the 1990s. Both beads came out of Asia but the agate reminds me of material from Botswana, Africa. length 30 mm width 24 mm depth 11 mm

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A new bow shaped dZi which was found in Mandi, North India (2007). Both the shape and stylised eyes are not often seen on new beads. 38 mm x 13 mm

Monday, June 21, 2010

A huge silver amulet with antique coral, amber, silver, and ancient agates.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reinhold Messner is seen here wearing a two eyed dZi bead flanked with red coral. This is the typical way a man would wear a dZi bead in the Himalayan regions. Messner says he obtained his bead in Tingri in 1981 and it always fascinates the Sherpas and Tibetans when they see him wearing it. He is regarded by some as the greatest mountain climber of all time. In the 1970s he was the first to reach the summit of Everest without bottled oxygen. Following that he was the first to achieve a solo Everest climb. In 2004 he completed a 2000 kilometer expedition through the Gobi desert. The list goes on!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A stunning ancient bicone jasper disc bead. 46.77 mm (diameter) x 14.62 (depth). It always amazes me how jasper is often overlooked in favour of banded agate beads. Jasper is an opaque form of chalcedony and the name is likely to have originated from the Persian word "yašp". Jasper is certainly amongst the most colourful materials used in antiquity. According to the second book of the Hebrew bible (Exodus), it was also used in the breastplate of Jewish high priests. This bead was supposedly found in the Western Sahara desert and was possibly a spindle whorl.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A newly created bow shaped agate bead. Sourced in Nepal 37.59 mm x 15 mm

A newly created bow shaped agate bead. They are also
known as leech, wedge or 'cattle horn' beads.
Sourced in Nepal.
35 mm x 15 mm

Ancient agate bead 30 mm x 28 mm

Ancient agate bead 30 mm x 28 mm

Friday, May 28, 2010

Garuda or Khyung Thokcha 29 mm x 27 mm

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A lotus seed mala turned dark from years of use, with an old turquoise guru bead.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A very large ancient Chong dZi with a nicely contrasted single stripe or equatorial zone. Displays genuine medicinal digs. The end shavings allow one to see the original colour of the stone before it received colour enhancement. 58 mm x 18 mm