Saturday, 13 March 2010

Wedding Beads

These beads are so tempting they should be edible! The kaleidoscopic assortment of colors is worn together by Fulani and Peul women from Mali, traditionally at wedding ceremonies. They were produced in Bohemia from the early to the mid 1900s and taken to Africa through the colonial trading routes to be exchanged for local goods.

I bought them in Mali on a bead scouting mission after reading that it is the best place to buy beads in Africa. The main markets were a total disappointment, kilometers of stalls brimming with Chinese plastic toys and buckets or tourist bits and pieces. So we ventured inland on goat-packed buses, had tea with the Tuaregs, trekked amongst the animistic Dogons, slithered down the Niger river on a big canoe and finally arrived in a small bustling trading town on the river Niger. A few days of enquiring brought us to private houses of bead dealers where we spent entire days, picking out beads, chatting, eating, playing with their children but mostly bargaining! Heaven!

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