Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Clamshell Heishi Beads Thin White Disks African 28 Inch

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Title Clamshell Heishi Beads Thin White Disks African 28 Inch
Other Names N/A
Type of Object Cut polished clamshell beads.
People N/A
Made In Africa
Traded In Africa
Approximate Age 20th century
Overall Condition Good to fair. Some of these beads have traveled at least three continents, and have graced numerous owners. Small chips, corrosion, and pitting are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.
Damage/Repair Chips on some bead edges
Bead Size 6-9 mm diameter. See picture with penny for size comparison.
Strand Length 28 inches (includes string/raffia)

Picture is an example. Yours will be similar.

Additional information: For more information, please see our comprehensive guide to African-made beads, African Beads: Jewels of a Continent, hardcover, 216 pages, 163 color photographs, available from Africa Direct.

The name “heishi” comes to us from the Santo Domingo and San Felipe Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, and can be translated as “shell bead.” The earliest recorded beads were made using the heishi technique. Heishi are produced by perforating shell fragments, threading them on wire, and then grinding them into disk shapes against a stone. Whereas “heishi” originally referred only to shell beads made with this technique, the term is now applied to disk-shaped beads made from almost any natural material.