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Beads in the News: Archive 2

2 September 1997 - 13 April 1998

The Dalai Lama's Uses for Beads

Posted 13 April 1998 -- Sources: Allen Wan Reuters and CNNin, 11 April.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists, joked in Tokyo about multiple uses for beads. He claimed he both prayed with them and figured with them. "There are many things I don't know. I don't know computers or how to calculate. Sometimes I use my rosary beads for calculation," he is quoted as saying.

Buddhist prayer beads (the term "rosary" is really reserved for Roman Catholic prayer beads), as all prayer strands, are used for counting prayers while saying devotions. In this sense, they are used to calculate. The abacus, a frame with beads mounted on it, is more commonly employed to do mathematical calculations.

Beads go to war

Posted 7 April 1998 -- Sources: Mail and Guardian distributed by Africa News Online and CNNin, 2 April.

The rebellion in Sierra Leone is over and beads helped. Nigerian-led Ecomog forces drove Major Johnny Paul Koroma's military junta army out of the capital of Freetown, but the countryside was liberated by amulet and bead wearing traditional hunting brotherhoods.

The Kamajors (mainly Mendes) and the Capras (mostly Temnes) used their skills at bush fighting to augment the less mobile Nigerian forces. Their secret weapons were charms and rituals performed by priests.

When Nigerian forces entered the northern town of Magburaka and first met "civil defense" fighters of the Capras, they laughed. A news dispatch from Johannesburg explained the mirth, as the Capras were, "clad in bright, multicoloured woolen vests and ponchos, adorned with mirrors, medicine bundles, conch shells and fetish beads, [they] looked like the paramilitary wing of the Jimi Hendrix fan club.

Motorman Garage, spokesman for the Capras explained that their ancient rifles were not the key to their success. Wearing a "Clint Eastwood poncho festooned with little woolen packets containing charms," he explained that the rebels neither heard them approach nor could fire upon them. One of their men captured 40 rebels.

Beads have been known to do amazing things. More details on the types of beads that helped restore the elected government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah are welcomed.

More beadwork in fashion

Posted 7 April 1998 -- Source: The New York Times 3 April, p. B11.

The Times headline reads, "Rulers of the Night: Blass, de la Renta and Beads."It's that season again and New York designers are bringing out their best. Bill Blass showed a "strapless black velvet with ropes of pearls." Oscar de la Renta presented "black dresses with jet (probably French jet - glass) beading." But the real beadwork was the product of the designer team of Mark Badgley and James Mischka.

According to Times fashion reviewer Anne-Marie Schiro, "The specialty of the Badgley Mischka team is beading, and the designers have perfected the art." Their offerings included, "flimsy black lace or georgette dresses traced with jet or metal embroidery, printed velvet dresses with a touch of beading on the chest, a slip gown with beading only on the bosom, and a rose velvet slip dress with a scattering of silver beading."

American designers join the French (see next story) in this year's beadwork in fashion statement.

Beadwork in the Fashion News

Posted 18 March 1998 -- Sources: Reuters, CNNin 14 March

Beads are in the fashion news again, as beadwork. The Paris fashion houses are announcing their newest creations and beadwork plays a role. U.S. designer Michael Kors, works for the house of Celine. The "stark but relaxed" feel of his new collection features, "Topping off Kors' limited, restrained repertoire was the evening wear: beaded jackets in white or pigeon grey..." according to Reuters correspondent Lee Yanowitch.

Earlier, French designer Christian Lacroix, showed off his new fall-winter collection. It included a beaded belt and "high-collared black bodices with leg-of-mutton sleeves of crimped taffeta, dripping with jet beads, lace and scarlet," says Yanowitch.

Bet they were French jet.

Police and 60 Minutes Investigate Bead Store

Posted 13 February 1998 -- Sources: 60 Minutes, CBS, 8 February

Quebec is very concerned about the languages used in public. English is OK, but French must dominate. The poor Bead Emporium, run by our old friend, Ruth Shine! She had far too many English signs and the "language cops" paid her a visit. So did 60 Minutes. Hope you saw the episode (there are reruns in the summer). It was a great visit to her store and put bead stores on the map, even if for violating the law.

Barbie Puts Beads in Her Hair

Posted 13 February 1998 -- Sources: and Reuters

"Barbie had discovered the delights of Girl Power and is off clubbing with beads in her hair." The London dispatch ran breathlessly. A "much cooler and more streetwise" Barbie, symbolized by those wicked beads in her hair, has been debuted, the first major change since 1977.

In case you were wondering, the average American girl owns 10 Barbies. There is a Barbie for every 5 or 6 people on Earth. Ken is going to be a doctor, but Barbie remains the "dominant partner."

Imelda's Beautiful Beads

Posted 13 February 1998-- Sources: and Reuters.

The former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, has officially decided to run for President on 11 May. Battling to stay out of jail, the much-criticized former beauty queen walked on her knees into a Manila church and prostrated herself before the alter after filing. A mob surrounded her, calling out her name. She was appropriately attired as the savior of the poor with golden brooches and bracelets. Her prayer beads were "ruby-colored," set off with a "sparkling golden cross." Her chances of success are minimal.

Bead Looters Get Nabbed

Posted 2 October 1997 -- Sources: , Reuters and AP.

During the last week, two instances of looting beads and other artifacts have drawn attention to the strengths and weaknesses of antiquity laws.

In one case, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced that Federal agents had seized 155 artifacts ranging from stone tools to elaborate jewelry illegally dug up on the Aleutian island of Shemya, a U.S. Air Force station. They arrested John Wells, who had been digging the items out illegally for three years while working for a subcontractor to the Air Force.

One of the most spectacular artifacts was a "womens' figure-eight nose rings, from which beads and feathers dangles." Both federal officials and Aleut groups had been robbed of priceless information.

"What you're getting is the pictures out of this book and you're missing the context," said Fish and Wildlife archaeologist Debra Corbett. "Because of the way they were excavated, we're not going to get much of this story." Although no Aleuts live on Shemya now, their settlement there is believed to date back 3500 years. The looted artifacts could have helped enlighten the story of these people.

So what happened to this miscreant who dug up graves for three years? The artifacts were confiscated, of course, and will go on a travelling expedition. But the labels will be short. And as for Wells, he got a slap-on-the-wrist fine of $500, about what a couple of those earrings with dangling beads would have fetched.

Meanwhile, in Greece 54 golden beads, pendants and brooches in remarkable condition for their 6500 year age, were seized by the police. They arrested two men they had been watching for a year. One was a Greek private detective, Panagiotis Evangelou, 48, and the other a Greek-Canadian, Andreas Bittar. When they left a hotel where they tried to sell the ancient jewelry for $3.5 or $3.6 million, they were apprehended.

The Neolithic ornaments date back to between 4500 and 3200 BC. There had been only 12 such ornaments known in Greece previously of this age, most of it in "King Priam's Treasure" excavated from Troy by Heinrich Schliemann in 1873. This "Treasure" is not in Greece, but elsewhere, having been looted during World War II.

There is no word on the fate of the two men in custody. Reuters said, "In recent years, Greece has cracked down on antiquities smuggling in an attempt to protect its proud heritage." And so it has. We can probably expect a heavy jail term and big fine, likely much more than $500.

Whose ancestry is worth more?

Oh, the Tangled Webs!

Posted 5 September 1997 -- Source and Reuters

Here's a bead story with something for everybody -- schools, lawyers, religion, the universal use of beads as symbols of identification and teen-age gangs. High school sophomores David Chalifoux, 15, and his best friend, Jerry Robertson, triumphed when a federal judge in Houston, Texas, affirmed their right to wear pale green phosphorescent beads.

The beads are rosaries, Catholic prayer strands, and altar boy Chalifoux and Robinson wore them to proclaim their allegiance to the Church. However, a campus police officer and the administrators of New Caney High School didn't see it that way. A local gang, the United Homies, had adopted rosaries as part of their "colors," clothes and accessories that identify their members.

U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner allowed the religious boys to wear their rosaries outside of their shirts. He said the school had not published a list of gang "colors" that were forbidden to be worn at the school.

It remains to be seen once a list is so published whether prayer beads can be outlawed by school authorities. The ruling may have implications for other schools that try to ban gang "colors."

Necklaces: They Insult and Start Riots

Posted 2 September 1997 Source Indian Express On-Line

About the most embarrassing thing you can do to someone in India is to hit them with your slipper. Most Indians wear "chapples," what Americans call "thongs" or "flip-flops." When you see an India hit with one of these, you know something is terribly wrong.

In the folklore that surrounds Baba Ghor, the Patron Saint of the western Indian Agate Bead Industry, this is acknowledged. In at least one version, Baba Ghor fought Makkhan Devi, the old goddess of the region, but Makkan Devi was really vanquished by Ghor's sister, who hit her with her slipper.

In more recent times, the image has been used by those who would stir up communal hatred. I don't know exactly how many disturbances are started this way, but it has been going on for some time. On 12 July riots began in Bombay (now Mumbai) and spread to much of the rest of the state of Maharashtra, India's economic powerhouse. All that was needed was to string a garland (necklace) of chappels around the neck of a statue of Babasahib Ambedkar. Ambedkar was a Freedom Fighter and author of much of India's modern constitution. But, some discontents hate him because he championed the cause of the Dalits (outcastes, untouchables, harijan), even going so far as to abandon Hinduism and began a return to Buddhism.

On 31 August it was going to happen all over again in Aurangabad. The Commissioner of Police, Ulhas Joshi acted with alacrity. By the time he arrived at the "decorated" (desecrated) statue some 500 Dalits were already mulling around and the scene was getting uglier. But, Joshi swung into action. He removed the garland, washed the statue and lighted agarbatti (incense sticks). This calmed things down and averted a riot.

Venus Keeps It Up

Posted 2 September Source CNN Interactive

Venus Williams, a rising young American tennis star just keeps beads in the news. As reported here on 31 July she drew attention at the British Open when some purple, green and white beads she was wearing in her hair spilled out. It turns out that she wore those colors because they were the colors of the English Union tennis association. So, what has she been wearing at the U.S. Open? Of course, red, white and blue beads -- 1800 in all, presumably equally apportioned. Way to go, Venus.

Here for more archived stories

Articles posted from 9 March to 27 August 1997 -- in Archive 1


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