These pieces of colored glass, found in many countries over the globe, can also be named as African Trade Beads, Slave Beads, Love Beads, Mosaic Beads, or Venetian Trade Beads . In Morocco Millefiori are found more commonly in the Agadir region, specifically Guelmim, once a camel trade, cross roads town and of course Marakesh where no stone is unturned and traded for.
The beads were produced between the 16th and 20th centuries in Venice Italy, formerly an important center of commerce. Being a form of currency, popular in the slave trade, these beds turn up in markets and boutiques in Africa, the Americas and parts of Asia. The intricate droplets of glass were exchanged for human cargo as well as ivory, gold and other goods desired in Europe and around the world.
Millefiori translates from Italian as a thousand flowers and these now jewellery pieces consist of intertwined lengths of glass that were bound and stretched at a high temperature and then cut into cylinder shapes. Beads such as the kiffa beads of Mauritania are thought to have resulted from women creating powdered glass beads to mimic the appearance of Millefiori beads.
You can distinguish between replicas and the real thing by looking at the strength of the color – mass produced millefiori beads tend to have greater color intensity.
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