The Ugliest Beads
It took me about 2 ½ hours to buy them. It took that long for the young salesman to come down to my price. The scene was Jalan Surabaya (Surabaya Street) in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. It has dozens of stalls selling antiques or things presented as antiques.
They have plenty of beads.
I wanted them because I had never seen them before. The salesman immediately told me they were old, made of stone and came from Kalimantan, the Indonesian side of Borneo. Geographically, it is a patchwork of mountains, jungle and rivers, difficult to traverse.
Tourists are supposed to go crazy for anything that comes from this mysterious land.
I might have been a tourist, but I knew something about beads. That these ugly ones come from Kalimantan is true. They are made in Central Kalimantan, though I have no more information about them yet.
That they are stone is ridiculous. Their cores seem to be bonded sawdust and their surfaces melted polyethene plastic. That they are old is obviously also absurd.
So, why did it take me so long to get these treasures of an enigmatic far-away island?
At the end I was told he would have to clear the price with his "father." It was a great show on his part, and I was pleased with my $3.00 "world's ugliest" necklace.
That's bargaining in the Orient.
For information on heirloom beads in Indonesia, order:
Small Bead Businesses | Beading & Beadwork | Ancient Beads | Trade Beads