Millefiori Bead

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Object Name: 
Millefiori Bead
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 1 cm, W: 2.1 cm, D: 2.7 cm
Not on Display
Web Description: 
Venetian mosaic beads are most commonly associated with the African trade. While some of these beads may have been made for European markets, almost all of the mosaic and millefiori beads were probably produced as part of the extensive distribution of European beads in Africa, a trade that had grown exponentially in the 19th century. Mosaic beads were also some of the earliest beads to appear on reverse trade routes during the 1970s, when many Venetian beads began to be purchased from Africa and brought into the United States. This reverse trade led to a deepening of the association of Venetian mosaic beads with Africa. Venetian beadmakers were well aware of the increased demand for these beads, and they worked to develop more patterns and forms to fulfill the needs of the market. The reinvention of the ancient Roman mosaic technique had allowed the Venetians to create very complex drawn canes and many more patterns, but also to perfect the simpler cane designs and to apply those murrine to new shapes for the market. This bead represents the tabular form. It is hexagonal, but more circular shapes were also made in this flattened style (e.g., 70.3.130). The pattern of concentric rings on the murrine used for this bead is quite basic, but when it is well placed, it results in a distinct cellular design that covers the exterior of the bead and is quite different in appearance from the floral millefiori style.
Lamb, Alastair, Source
Primary Description: 
Millefiori flattened hexagon - black core with millefiori cellular effect; eye roughly circular, yellow, red, white and dark blue on black ground.
Corning Museum of Glass 2013-05-18 through 2014-01-05
For 30,000 years, mankind has crafted beads from natural materials. With the discovery of glassmaking in the second millennium B.C., glass began to be used for this same purpose. Glass beads are universal. They have been produced throughout the 35 centuries of glass manufacturing, and by nearly every culture in the world. The glass beads and beaded objects on view in this exhibition are arranged thematically, comparing the manner in which diverse cultures have utilized beads, frequently for the same purposes, but sometimes for unique reasons. These themes explore how glass beads adorn the body and our possessions; how they convey messages about power and wealth, and identify the stages of human life; how they serve ritual purposes, as well as decorate clothing and objects used in rituals; and how they have been employed across the centuries as a means of exchange, both commercial and cultural. Through the centuries, beads have been made using a variety of processes. Understanding how beads were made has allowed scholars to follow the transmission of beads and beadmaking techniques across the globe. Across time and around the world, glass beads have become a common element of mankind. Through their manufacture and function, they are one of the strings that bind humanity together. “Life on a String” celebrates this common bond while also revealing the distinctiveness of different societies through their use of glass beads to celebrate their unique cultural heritage.