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. 

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