Zen Venetian Trade Beads Jk Brown Collection
Zen trade beads are glass beads that served as currency in the African trade market from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Produced in Venice, Italy, these beads featured a black and white color scheme symbolizing yin and yang. Skilled craftsmanship was essential for their consistent size and shape. Strung on strands for easy transport, they were not only used as currency but also for adornment and decoration in African cultures, often worn as necklaces or used in religious ceremonies. Today, Zen trade beads are highly valued by collectors, influencing contemporary fashion and design with their simple yet elegant aesthetic.
This strand is not intended to be a ready-to-wear necklace. Although the strand can be worn "as is," the raffia holding it together is not durable and may break with use. For this reason, we recommend that you restring the beads before wearing them.
Provenance: Jk Brown Collection
Kathie and Jerry Brown have been collecting trade beads for more than 50 years. They had a business selling them for many years, called “Thunder and Lightning.” According to Jerry, “Kathie was the lightning, and I was the thunder!” Their collecting began in 1967 when they met a Peace Corps volunteer who was selling his collection to finance a school for African children- and the Browns bought it all. Over the years, they’ve amassed thousands of stands of Venetian and other European trade beads, as well as made-in-Africa beads and jewelry. They sold at Mountain Man rendezvous and other events. Africa Direct is very proud to be the new owner of this extraordinary collection.