Early African Powder Glass
West Africans have been using old and  scrap glass for their bead-making for over 1000 years. The glass is pounded into a fine powder - poured into clay moulds, in various sequences
to achieve the desired designs - then heated to fuse the particles together.
A leaf stem is placed in the centre of the mould, which burns away to leave the hole.
Over the last 400 years, the peoples of the Asante and Krobo tribal areas in Ghana have been the leading exponents of this art. Individual  village production can be identified from the different colours and patterns and these older production beads are becoming very collectible.

24 ins / 61 cm strand length beads graduating
 from 7 x 8 to 9 x 11 mm
ATB 668-06   46

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24 ins / 61 cm strand length beads graduating
 from 7 x 9 to 10 x 12 mm
ATB 668-09   46

24 ins / 61 cm strand length beads graduating
 from 9 x 11 to 13 x 14 mm
ATB 668-10   46

The earliest powder glass beads on record were discovered during archaeological excavations at Mapungubwe, in present-day Zimbabwe, and dated to 970-1000 CE. In our time,  the main area of powder glass bead manufacture is West Africa, most importantly, Ghana. The origins of beadmaking in Ghana are unknown, but the great majority of powder glass beads produced today are made by Ashanti and Krobo craftsmen and women. Krobo bead making has been documented to date from as early as the 1920s but despite limited archaeological evidence, it is believed  that Ghanaian powder glass bead making dates further back. Bead making in Ghana was first documented by John Barbot in 1746. Beads still play important roles in Krobo society, be it in  rituals of birth, coming of age, marriage, or death.