African people cherished beads and appreciated their beauty over the centuries. Glass beads by the million were imported into Africa by Europeans. Those from Venice, Italy, were the finest - and most sought-after in Africa - since Venice had been the main production centre since the Middle Ages.
The beads traded for people and African goods were used to make jewellery. These bracelets were made using blue and white stripe glass beads and imitation coral beads. European traders arranged beads by colour and type on 'trading cards' to see which were preferred by African traders – an early form of marketing and product placement.
Until recently, many commentators on Africa claimed that African societies had no tradition of writing. Read more...