2-hole Beads

Since I’ve started beading all of a week ago, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to Beading Daily’s blog. This week, they posted a piece on 2-hole beads that caught my attention.

I certainly won’t disagree with the article. I don’t know enough about modern beading and while I haven’t used 2-hole beads yet, I imagine they would be incredibly useful.

What I do find interesting is that they seem to have basically revolutionized modern beading, and that 2-hole beads were fairly rare roughly 15 years ago.

2-hole beads aren’t incredibly common in the archaeological record, but they certainly exist. Beck had seen enough of them by 1926 that he included them in his famous guide for bead classification and nomenclature. And not just 2-hole beads, but any bead with multiple perforations in various forms.

Beck's classification for beads with multiple perforations (published 1926).

Beck’s classification for beads with multiple perforations (published 1926).

And I’m curious as to why a style of bead that was certainly in use enough in the past for Beck to create multiple classifications of them fell out of use. And not just fell out of use, but fell out of use to such a degree that their comeback has been fairly revolutionary to modern beading. Since so many of our bead forms existed in the past and have been in use for thousands (or tens of thousands) of years, why not multi-hole beads?

I don’t know the answer, I’m just struck by the curiosity of it. I wonder if it has to do with the prevalence of other bead styles, like seed beads, pushing out these multi-hole styles.

I don’t know.

But I find it interesting that we could lose a style like that only to have it come back and revolutionize beading and bead design. And I’m excited that this style is coming back into fashion and beadwork – the designs I see are some of my favorites, and I’m glad we’ve brought back a bead form that’s laid dormant for a while.


About Heather Christie

Heather is an archaeologist, photographer, and writer whose research focuses on beads and bead trade, particularly in a maritime sense. She's currently working working on a PhD in Digital Design (focusing on heritage visualisation) at the Glasgow School of Art.
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One Response to 2-hole Beads

  1. Pingback: Around the Archaeology Blog-o-sphere Digest #8 | Doug's Archaeology

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