I went to Google & ended up at the Met...


I'd seen this bead posted somewhere, thought I'd find out a little more about it...
it was the date that fascinated me,
created somewhere around 500-600 A.D.
So, what else does one do?  I Googled it...

Culture: Frankish ~  Medium: Glass ~ Dimensions: 1  9/16 x 3/4 in.

and there it was, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City.
Now, it's been a long time since I visited there in person and I don't know if  I've ever been to their website,
so what the heck, I   made the big mistake   decided to have a little wander around
and proceeded to type the word BEADED into the search box...

oh heaven help me.

Wait till you see some of the incredible beaded objects I discovered.

  But before I continue on, I want you to know that it's perfectly alright with the Met to share their images like this.  In light of recent copyright discussions here (ahem), and elsewhere amongst friends, 
I made a special point to check this on the Met's 'Terms and Conditions' page.
Clickable links are provided with every image so you can go directly to the Met's collection (and their images enlarge to full screen size - plus a zoom thingey - wow).

We're good to go, and that's really good 
because now I'm gonna show you a few of their amazing pieces of bead antiquity...

Date: ca. 680-670 B.C. ~ Geography: Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes ~ Medium: Blue faience beads

Constructed of tubular faience beads strung together in a net pattern, this shroud was sewn onto the outer wrappings of Tabakenkhonsu's mummy.  Additional beads in various colors have been worked into the garment at several points: a beaded broad collar has been added to the top, where the garment came over the mummy's neck;  over her breast was a winged scarab to protect the heart; and on the abdomen are four "canopic" genii who guarded the viscera.

A very interesting description of "faience" - the oldest artificial substance,
made a millennium before glass was invented -
can be found over here...

Date: mid-19th century ~ Geography: Canada, Quebec ~ Culture: Huron ~ Medium: Silk, wool, glass, moosehair ~ Dimensions: H. 2 1/2 x W. 9 in.

Date: ca. 2030-1802 B.C. ~ Geography: Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes ~ Medium: Wood, mud, linen string, paint

The so-called paddle doll consists of a flat piece of wood depicting the torso, rudimentary arms and neck of a woman, with a thick shock of "hair" made of beads strung on linen thread.  The body is often painted with jewelry, textile patterns and/or tattoos.  Contrary to their modern name, these "dolls" were not toys... It has been suggested that paddle dolls were an accoutrement of troops of singers and dancers who performed at religious ceremonies associated with the goddess of Hathor.

2,000 years B.C....how can this still exist???
I am in awe.

Date: mid-20th century ~ Culture: African (Dinka peoples) ~ Medium: glass beads, animal skins, wood, cowrie shells

The waist as a zone of decorative focus is not exclusive to women.  The Dinka people of the Sudan are virtually naked, save for their jewelry - necklaces, armlets, bracelets, anklets, and belts - and their beaded vests and corsets.  As each of these items is an explicit indication of age and status, their corsets are of varying scale.  The most heroic, as in this example, extend from the small of the back to a point above the shoulders.

Date: 20th century ~ Culture: African (Dinka peoples) ~ Medium: fiber, glass beads, cowrie shell

Date: 1818-1830 ~ Culture: Mexican ~ Medium: glass, silk ~ Dimensions: 4 3/8 x 1 1/2 in.

Beside the intricate beauty of the hand work, there is an interesting story behind this piece...
as there so often is.  Here is part:

The unusual shape of this early miniature reticule suggests that it served a decorative, rather than functional purpose.  Probably hand knitted, it is part of the Mexican beadwork collection of over 600 pieces assembled by Elizabeth Morrow (1873-1955), mother of writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of renowned aviator Charles Lindbergh.  Morrow collected the objects between 1927 and 1930, when her husband, Dwight Morrow, Sr., served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico...

Date: 19th-20th century ~ Geography: Nigeria ~ Culture: Yoruba peoples ~ Medium: wood, glass beads, cloth, leather, fur, metal, pigment 

Date: 12th-14th century ~ Geography: Peru ~ Culture: Chimu ~ Medium: Spondylus shell and black stone beads, cotton ~ Dimensions: H. 17 1/2 x W. 15 in.

Date: 19th century ~ Culture: English ~ Medium: bone, metal and beads

There were no dimensions for this one on the Met's website...I wonder about its size.
And would this be a fancy bobbin for lacemaking?
It is divine, whatever the intended use.

: : :

Just a couple more to show you - I feel like a glutton too long at the bead table!
But these next two exquisite textile pieces you must see...

a 1920's bead embroidered silk velvet dress...

Designer: Jean Patou ~ Date: ca. 1924 ~ Culture: France ~ Medium: silk, metallic thread, metal beads

...and this sample embroidery cloth of the same era, attributed to Sarah Lipska, a Polish designer.

Date: 1920-29 ~ Culture: French ~ Medium: silk, metal ~ Dimensions: 34 1/2 in.

This object is from a collection of sample embroideries, which was originally owned by Morris de Camp Crawford, editor of Women's Wear Daily, who collected objects which told the story of fashion and fabric history...Lipska is an enigmatic figure, who is known to have worked with Leon Bakst as a set and costume designer for the Ballets Russes, and later in the 1920s as a fashion designer in Paris at 4 rue Belloni, and finally as a sculptor.  Extant examples of her work are rare...

Please treat yourself & view this over at the Met
click to enlarge - then zoom in to see her beautiful beaded stitches...

whatever you do, stay away from the search box.
You have been warned.


  1. extraordinary - the wooden paddle doll, the man's beaded corset!
    thanx for the warning

    1. Kaite, yes I know, so extraordinary I had to sit down and do a blog post, they so blew my mind. Glad you enjoyed

  2. You KNEW that when you warned us against it EVERYBODY is gonna click on that accursed site now! I do admire Museums that make an effort to display their work to a broad audience. That's why the Met is The Met!

    1. OH, the Met, indeed! I suppose, Panayoti, one could say that you have the honor of working in a Plant Museum? A place also teeming with the most extraordinary specimens with long & fascinating genealogies! Lovely to see you over here, btw... ;>}

  3. Replies
    1. That's what I did, too, Deb...I have such a ***thing*** for velvet dresses. That one is gorgeous enough as it is, what with the silver metal beads now tarnished - can you imagine what it must have looked like when those beads were freshly sewn?! ooooh lah lah.

  4. Wow!
    The paddle doll is the one that speaks to me the loudest.

    1. The paddle doll - and the ritual that accompanies it - was a most educational read....who knew? That is one of the things I miss most now, living in such a remote locale, going to ANY museum is a major journey. Wouldn't it be amazing to see this piece in person?!?!

  5. Amazing. What of today's beadwork do you think will be found in museums hundreds of years from now? Do you think the actual pieces will be kept somewhere, or that we will merely be able to see them on some futuristic device?

    1. Now that's a thought provoking question. Perhaps both? And perhaps the objects shown on such devices will be 3-D by then?

  6. How absolutely wonderful! Shall have to plan a virtual visit to the museum soon. I'm smitten with the Osayin Priest, which might just say something about me *smile*

    1. I totally get your smitten-ness, Penny, and do you know, I actually thought of Jude the moment I saw that delightful character. He seems a creation of a lively mind! although I know he must have been formed with great spiritual intent. Which is all part of it, isn't it.

  7. all amazing really. love the last from Sara Lipska.
    thanks for the trip to the met!

    1. You're welcome, Nancy, glad you enjoyed....yes, ALL amazing!

  8. Just beautiful and thanks for the link: I got lost in the Met's website.

    1. Oh what a place to get lost, the Met has done a superb job with their online presence...such a learning tool, especially for those of us who live so far away.

  9. The Paddle Doll is my favourite. Thanks to the "You might also like" feature I didn't miss out on this delicious post :-)
    Now off to the Met!

    1. Be careful over there, Robyn...you may not come out for a VERY long time!!
      (I get enticed by those little "also like" deelybobbies all the time myself ;>]]