PREHISTORIC BEADS

 

Beads have existed for thousands of years and are made of a variety of materials including various types of stone, metals, shell, teeth, and bone.  Glass beads came along as European fur trade increased and grew to include beads from all over the world.  Their history is part of the section on Trade Goods.  The natural materials available to Native Americans in the centuries prior to European contact were used in ingenious ways to develop creative and beautiful decorative wear.  This section will address each type of material as it was used by Native Americans, including any helpful information that will add to our understanding of its use.

STONE BEADS

 

 

 

SHELL BEADS

 

 

 

BONE BEADS

 

Mastodon Bone

Museum documentation states that these beads were fashioned from mastodon bones, a clear indication that the selection of materials for bead manufacture was as limitless as the imagination of the maker.  It may also be an indication of the antiquity of the art of bead making.

Turtle Claws

 

 

 

 

 

TEETH

Bear Canine Teeth

Bear Canine Teeth were a favorite of the American Indian.  They were frequently worked in intermitantly with other bead types throughout the centuries.  Some decorative wear was made almost entirely of bear teeth.

 

 

METALIC SUBSTANCES