Friday, June 10, 2011


Here we have an antique (not ancient) dZi bead created in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. These beads were probably created in the late 19th century and are made from agate. They were first correctly identified by Jamey D Allen, a respected bead researcher in the USA. It is likely that they were the first convincing stone replicas of ancient dZi to appear in the Tibetan/Himalayan marketplace. Prior to this, there were decorated Chinese beads made from serpentine and also various glass imitations. Later 20th century imitations include ceramic, plastic, glass, wood and bone. The Taiwanese beads started to appear in the early 1990s and they are the closest in appearance to ancient beads.  

I was recently shown a six eye Idar-Oberstein bead by a very respected dZi dealer in Kathmandu. The selling price was almost $6000 (May 2011). The is the most expensive Idar-Oberstein bead I have seen to date - but having said this it was also the best example. Tibetans believe these beads originate from Bhutan, so they call them Bhutanese dZi. Which is probably another way of saying they don't know where they come from. Even though they are not so old they are still very collectible and highly appreciated by Tibetans in Nepal. They are also not as common as you might expect, which is why they command high prices. Of the many thousands of beads I have viewed over the past 15 years, I have seen less than 10 Idar-Oberstein beads for sale. The majority of the Idar-Oberstein beads display six and nine eyes. The bead above displays the Sakor Namkor (Square & Circle) decoration. 31 mm x 12 mm

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