There has been some question regarding the origin of these beads, with some believing they are ancient and some believing they are made now or recently. We believe these inexpensive and plentiful beads are ancient (approx. 600 years old, from the 15th or 16th century) and have been "sifted from the sand."
These beads have been found scattered across desert sands and at burial sites in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, etc. It seems unlikely that bead makers would go through the time consuming process required to create these ancient looking beads. They are so cheap it just wouldn't be profitable.
Trade Beads, African Clay Beads, Small
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Small African clay beads. Shapes include bicones, ovals and disks. These ancient beads are commonly collected by sifting desert sands. 80-100 beads per 28" strand.