The marvel of non-etched beads


At their finest, non-etched beads can embody the essence of sculptural art. Every now and then, as hundreds, or even thousands, of ancient beads cross our paths, a select few emerge as truly extraordinary.
In this context, Michelangelo's insightful musings on his sculptural creations perfectly encapsulate this experience:

In every block of stone, a statue lies waiting to be discovered,
and it's the sculptor's task to unveil it.

I saw an angel within the marble and
continued to carve until I set it free.

With a sculpture, we can typically discern its orientation what is up, down, front, or back. However, a bead resembles more closely a celestial body, like the moon or a planet. If a sculpture is an angel granted liberation, a bead resembles a spirit carved free. You might have already discerned what attracts you most to a particular bead, but remember, like the moon, a bead also possesses unexplored facets. And who knows, one day you might find that the undiscovered aspect of your bead intrigues you more.


The intricacies of a bead's design unfurl within the three-dimensional space of the stone itself. As a result of this spatial context, the observer's perspective is fluid and ever-changing. The aesthetic charm of a bead is dynamic; a slight shift in its position in your hand can unveil a whole new panorama, revealing fresh motifs that generate new insights and interpretations. As your fingers guide its motion, the finest beads morph into a form of kinetic calligraphy.

A two-dimensional scan or photograph can hardly capture the full spectrum of a well-crafted ancient bead's fluid elegance. Unlike a bead, a picture or painting doesn't invite you to rotate it during observation. The dimensional relation between you and the image is relatively fixed.

A web image alone can't truly express the magnificent splendor of an ancient art bead. To underline my point, I've supplemented the bead scans with video footage on this page. Please focus on the beads in the videos below, not my unadorned fingers. Remember, the moon is where the fingers point. Also, kindly refrain from duplicating my fingerprints!

Survival of the fittest ... art bead
The exhibition you see here represents a collection of ancient beads with extraordinarily unique designs.

I find myself pondering how many kilograms of raw stone were necessary to extract the latent elegance of these Michelangelo's angels - or was it all a matter of pure happenstance?

Perhaps these pieces, now regarded as art-beads intentionally shaped by their creators, were simply the product of pure serendipity. Alternatively, it might be that beads with unique patterns and colors endured through a sort of Darwinian selection process - survival of the artfully fittest. In this perspective, successive generations of bead caretakers acted as discerning guardians, always taking extra care of the more unique and striking beads, thereby indirectly shaping the evolution of art-beads.

Other explanations, both complementary and conflicting, could also be posited: beads with unique patterns and designs might have been impractical for everyday use as nishka, or currency. They wouldn't be suitable for buying a new cow, as the exchange broker might not accept them. Hence, they were spared from the usual wear and tear. We could also conceive a scenario where uniformed, designed beads served as currency, while the more unique ones, either intentionally crafted or birthed by chance, were singled out from the production line for religious and animistic purposes. In this case, art beads would be the ones endowed with the most potent symbolic power.

Of course, these ideas are speculative. However, my intent is merely to offer viewpoints for your own creative ideation process as you navigate the riveting stream of consciousness.
The small over cooked sulemani bead displayed below is quite remarkable. It exhibits excellent contrast patterns and artistic motifs from whatever side it is observed.
This kind of full spatial perfection in designs can only be seen in a very few lucky beads. The majority of ancient art beads will only display one central motif, leaving the rest of the bead's surface more or less uninteresting.

ART-SAN 1 - 8 mm

All the beads displayed on this page is owned by
Sanatan Khavadiya

That's why I've never been drawn to Dzi or single line Sulemani beads. They're too similar to one another, a trait that aids their role as a parallel bead-currency, much like a bit coin. Yet, they don't really qualify as art, unless you appreciate mass-produced, lithographic-like art objects. Outside their original context, Dzi often appeals to those newly wealthy individuals who prefer following trends rather than forming their own individual tastes in art or otherwise. They are the Rolex watches of the bead world. The DZI has evolved into a kind of Lama-Rolex, and just like Rolex watches, it's becoming increasingly challenging to tell the authentic from the counterfeit. Need I say more?

The beads displayed on, particularly on this page, cater to those with a tiger-like personality. Such individuals don't follow trails blazed by others. Instead, they are trailblazers themselves.
Beads designed for a Tiger-personality
'Multi-motif' beads are generally small, as it is more challenging to 'create' or set free angels from larger stone pieces.

Yet, the substantial and intensely baked Sulemani bead showcased below accomplishes this feat quite remarkably.

What are your thoughts?

I've aptly christened it the Tiger Bead, despite its stripes not being yellow. To emphasize my point, I've set the price for this bead at a hefty 25,000 USD. Anyone who would purchase this bead for such an amount would not be thinking about it as an investment, because they would likely not profit from it in a resale. This individual would be someone of courage, genuine artistic taste... and, of course, considerable wealth.


ART-SAN 2 - 27 * 17 mm
The Tiger Bead


The ancient smile of the Joker
Now have a look at the bead below. A bead does not need to be interesting from all sides if it can demonstrate one powerful single motif. As you can observe on the video, this bead does have a comparatively dull backside. However, who needs an exiting backside on a bead with such a motif on the front side! In my view, this bead is just awesome. What do you think?

ART-SAN 3 - 14 * 10,5 mm
The smiling Joker


My admiration for the visual complexity of ancient beads is immense. The patterns within the layers, the age-worn and crazed surfaces they seem to communicate something profound. But what exactly do they convey?

For modern western individuals, especially those without extensive travel experience, understanding the significance of symbolic thinking in ancient cultures can be challenging. Having lived with tribal communities in the East, I've observed that they perceive the world through symbols, where I attempt to comprehend through cognition.

There's a strong likelihood that specific patterns in beads carried symbolic meanings in ancient times. Beads, in this context, served as archetypal communication systems. They evolved into intersubjective realities as long as there was a collective consensus, grounded in time and space, about their significance.

Moreover, they signified a cultural evolution in the animistic relationships ancient peoples had with nature - in this case, a stone. A person picked up a stone and transformed it into a beautiful bead, thereby asserting symbolic control over the otherwise unforgiving natural environment surrounding them.

However, deciphering the language of ancient bead patterns, aside from the universal eye symbol prevalent across cultures and time periods, can be challenging. Once this symbolic language is lost, reviving it becomes a daunting task.

Even the conspicuous eye symbols frequently found on ancient beads become complex when we delve deeper. What did the eye symbolize for a specific culture at a given time? Was it an omnipresent eye? Did this omnipresent eye symbolize pure, non-dual consciousness, or was it a moral overseer? Was it a protective eye or an evil eye casting spells? Or did it resemble the shamanistic third eye of ancient Rishis and shamans, capable of perceiving other dimensions?

It's crucial to exercise caution while interpreting the patterns on ancient beads. It's all too tempting to project wishful thinking onto them, perceiving pictographic symbolic representations of yonis, lingams, bindis, the five elements, and other divine or magical forces.

The same caution applies to the patterns on etched beads. That's why I find it amusing that the etched beads displayed below on the internet are often referred to as 'military beads'. The designation is truly laughable.


The Meta-Modern Magic of Beads
This perspective, however, in no way diminishes the symbolic beauty and impact of an art bead. Anything that opens our hearts and minds is beautiful! Whether it's by design or accident, a bead can reveal the sacred dimensions that exist within your soul at this very moment.

This is meta-modern magic. You make the bead magical by observing it with focus and vitality. It serves as a mirror for your soul when you decipher its enigmatic pictographic language in a way that resonates with you, thereby creating your own divine world in the here and now!

You have every right to do so!

After all, you've created God in your own image, just as He created you.

There's nothing more potent and rare than a double-eyed bead! Regardless of how the coin lands, you're always a winner! The eye, in all its myriad forms, has been a universal symbol throughout human history. When you gaze at this exquisite eye-bead, it gazes back at you, drawing inspiration from Nietzsche's insights.

Eye-beads with concentric circles appear more powerful to me. What's your opinion?

ART-SAN 4 - 13 * 6 mm




ART-SAN 5 - 12 * 5 mm
Sold to Arthur



ART-SAN 6 - 10,5 * 5 mm



ART-SAN 7 - 11 * 10 * 8 mm



ART-SAN 8 - 12,5 * 10 * 9 mm


Symmetry can play a great role in inducing this kind of calmness in the soul. However, as the bead below demonstrates that also fractal forms can tell us the tale of the worlds perfect imperfection. The lines on this bead could be a map of a sea shore as well.

ART-SAN 9 - 24 * 17,5 mm



A powerful crystal formation within concentric contrasting circles of black and white. This bead is indeed looking at the one that looks at it.

ART-SAN 9a - 23 * 15 mm


The Superman Bead
I've dubbed this bead the Superman Bead. According to my meta-modern symbolic magic perspective, this bead functions like a battery, charged by my personal subjective reality. What I believe becomes reality when it is backed by enough energy and focus. However, the pattern within the stone aids me because it resonates with my thought forms.

If I were to name any other bead the Superman bead, it wouldn't have the same effect because its pattern wouldn't inspire the parts of my brain that still engage in symbolic thinking, regardless of how rationally trained the other parts might be.


ART-SAN 10 - 27 * 17 mm



ART-SAN 11 - 26,5 * 19,5 mm



ART-SAN 12 - 21,5 * 16,5 mm



ART-SAN 13 - 18 * 14,5 mm



ART-SAN 14 - 16 * 12 mm



ART-SAN 15 - 18,5 * 12 mm



ART-SAN 16 - 12,5 * 9,5 mm



ART-SAN 17 - 19,5 * 16 mm



ART-SAN 18 - 10 * 9 mm



ART-SAN 19 - 20 * 21 mm



ART-SAN 20 - 21,5 * 18,5 mm



ART-SAN 21 - 16 mm



ART-SAN 22 - 17 mm


ART-SAN 23 - 15,5 * 14 mm



ART-SAN 24 - 15 * 14 mm




ART-SAN 25 - 18 * 16,5 mm



ART-SAN 26 - 14 * 11,5 mm



ART-SAN 27 - 12 * 7 mm



ART-SAN 28 - 13 * 11,5 mm



ART-SAN 28 - 15,5 * 13 mm



ART-SAN 28 - 11 * 10 mm



ART-SAN 29 - 13 mm




ART-SAN 30 - 12 * 13 mm




ART-SAN 30 - 12 * 9 mm




ART-SAN 31 - 9 mm




ART-SAN 32 - 16,5 * 1 mm



ART-SAN  33 - 19 * 17 mm




ART-SAN 34 - 16,5 * 14 mm




ART-SAN 35 - 10,5 * 9 mm




ART-SAN 36 - 9.5 * 8 mm




ART-SAN 37 - 14 * 10 mm




ART-SAN 38 - 13,5 * 8 mm



ART-SAN 39 - 9,5 * 8 mm




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