Indus Valley Culture & Mauryan bead making

The bead as zero

Is where the Real Fun starts.
There's too much counting
Everywhere else!


The beads in
my collection
are now for sale

through bead ID
for price

The quest for beauty in beads often leads us towards those that are ancient, exquisite, and unique. Indeed, the specimens displayed on this page would captivate even if they were fresh from creation.

Any aficionado of ancient beads would concede that these particular beads are extraordinarily unique. Although my perspective may be tinted with bias, as I am the current guardian of these magnificent artifacts, I invite you, dear reader, to challenge my claim. Have you ever encountered beads of comparable beauty, either in digital showcases, published volumes, or in personal collections?

Of course, you may have - but it is plausible that such instances are few and far between.

The beads presented here do not conform to typical examples of ancient craftsmanship. They are among the most immaculate and striking beads I have ever encountered. Observe the perfectly formed holes in these substantial Indus beads, each one acting as a cultural envoy, speaking in the timeless language of stone.

Their shapes, textures, materials, and hues are all testaments to an era where the time and patience to craft a single bead from a piece of agate were abundant. It is probable that the people of the Indus Valley utilized these rare and distinctive beads as status symbols, reflective of their owners' prestige.

These extraordinary beads come from Rakhigarhi, located in Haryana. Recent excavations have revealed additional mounds in Rakhigarhi, pushing it to prominence as the largest, and potentially the oldest, of all Indus sites. Interestingly, this region has maintained a continuous habitation from the pre-Indus period until around 100 AD. A nearby site at Bhirrana has been dated back to approximately 7000 BC, suggesting that this area has been a cradle of civilizations for over 9000 years! However, the impressive beads presented here most likely belong to the later period of the Indus Valley civilization.

These findings challenge our previous understanding of the Indus Valley civilization's genesis, suggesting it did not originate from
Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in present-day Pakistan, as previously believed. Instead, it is more likely that the civilization originated in Haryana, in what is now India - unless, of course, even older sites are discovered elsewhere. These remarkable discoveries exemplify how our knowledge of the past is ever-evolving, shaped by the continuous uncovering of our shared ancient history.

IV  1   - 10 * 10 mm

Eye bead made of orbicular jasper. Look in the eye bead section to see the bead from another angle.

Variegated Jasper and unusual forms of agate
The Indus people and the Mesopotamians loved Jasper.
Jasper is an opaque cryptocrystalline quartz, typically red to brown, or in more rare cases green.

IV  2 -  14 * 9 mm
Price: 800 usd

An almost abstract painting in green,
rose, and white colors.
Indus Valley beads were the
first to demonstrate abstract
art in the world!

In these extraordinary, ancient Indus beads, one can often find what is referred to as variegated Jasper. This type of Jasper includes up to 20 percent non-quartz elements, accounting for the broad range of colors and decorative patterns observed.

Variegated Jasper was a highly prized gemstone among the people of the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. However, you will also find an array of truly unique types of Agate featured in this Indus collection.

A common feature of these beads is their symmetry, which often plays a significant role in the choice and creation of patterns. You may also frequently find the golden ratio reflected in the patterns. In the Magic Eye Beads, for example, the eye is almost invariably situated at the symmetrical center or within the golden ratio positioning.

A distinguishing characteristic of these Agate and Jasper beads is their extraordinary variety of colors and unusual mineral 'landscapes'. They represent a quest for the perfect bead, constructed from the most sublime materials.

These beads are assembled works of art, revealing the intrinsic beauty of their stone patterns through the craftsmanship of their creators. They embody the human aspiration to conceive and realize beauty. These beads, which emerged from raw stone approximately 3000 years ago, continue to captivate observers as they are displayed on this page.


IV  5  -     23 * 7 mm
Price: 1000 usd

A tubularly shaped jasper bead with
3-colored spiral

The banding lines are 'composed' in a very harmonious way in this incredible bead.


Believing that the sculpture was waiting inside the stone for the artist to free it, these ancient  craftsmen knew the art of letting the different natural motifs of the agate show itself at its finest!

Great care has been taken in cutting many of these stones so as to get special effects from the natural structure of the stone, white or colored bands being arranged to form 'eyes' , 'zones' or chevrons, all of which may have had special meanings. (
Beads from Taxilla, Horace Beck - p.8)


IV  6  -   14 * 8 mm
Price: 900 usd

A beautiful and very rare color combination of yellow and red in this unique jasper bead. It seems that red stripes and dots were the Indus peoples favorite. At least I have not seen beads with so many red colored motifs as in this collection from this Rakhigarhi Indus Valley collection.


Time is love
Due to modern technology and the general acceleration of social interaction on all levels in our modern time, it takes only five hours to produce a bead. In the app Big Data, it is mentioned that we today experience and process as much information in one day as we did in an entire lifespan 500 years back. So when it is estimated that it would take around
1 or 2 weeks to make a bead with Indus technology, we here have to add the general historical acceleration of time to the equation.
To sum it up: Magic beads are made in ample time ... Time is love
The outstanding bead for the outstanding personality
For me all the above-mentioned characteristics point in one direction. They hint at an interest in individuality.
The interest in the outstanding bead reflects the awareness that individuals stand apart from each other and are unique in their own right.
Seen from a historical point of view the discovery of the individual is a modern phenomenon.
We only find the notion of individuality in advanced societies and hence only in rare cases in ancient civilizations.

IV  8    - 20 * 10 mm
Price: 1000 usd

A quick comparison to the culture of DZI beads makes my point stand more clear: The DZI-beads are much more uniform. They reflect, not individuality, but 'typification'. DZI is reflecting, not individuality, but standard behavior patterns.
I do believe that the late Indus culture, not in its beginning in the West in what is now Pakistan, but in it's very blossoming end in North India, did in fact discover the individual man!
The beads displayed here bears testimony to this belief. They are the Rolex watches of the late Indus culture. 


IV  9  -  25 * 8 * 7 mm  
Price: 1000 usd

A tubularly shaped agate bead with a soft rose colored motif. The eye formation in the middle is less visible.  


Beads as currency & magic talismans

In the Indus Valley civilization, it is easy to assume that beautiful beads had a symbolic religious function that reached into the sphere of trade. Beads would fulfill the same function as later coins would.
However, the primary function most probably was to protect the wearer from evil eyes and predatory entities
in an animistic world consisting of many layers of reality reaching from gross existence to spirit dimensions.

IV  10   -  17 * 11 mm
Price: 1000 usd

This stunning bead reminds me of
pictures of Saturn. Beads are frozen landscapes.


In the historical periods to follow the Indus culture beads started to lose their importance as currency and
signifiers of high social status. The relatively high and well ordered social organization of Kingdoms made the controlled mass production of coins possible and diamond drills made it more easy to mass produce beads.
A bead does not possess the same quantifiable quality as a coin produced
by a certain Kingdom, and this even more so if the bead mirrors the need for individuality.

IV  11   - 21 * 11 mm - SOLD

Jasper bead. A complimentary, golden angle color composition in red and green.


In contrast to a coin, the value is of a certain bead can always be argued. Maybe it was the transition from bead currency to money currency that created the need for uniform beads such as the Tibetan DZI with a hierarchy of eyes and the Pyu beads with the so-called military stripes.
However, if the beads lost their importance as currency and social signifiers, they at least in the east never lost their importance as magic totems!

In this context one should not forget that the practice of meditation most probably was founded by the Indus civilization.

IV  12   - 15 * 10 mm - SOLD

A beautiful and calm composition
in a spiral striped bead.



IV  14   - 16 * 9 mm
Price: 800 usd
A  color composition in soft red
and green.


IV 15    - 21 * 9 mm
Price: 800 usd
Soft yellow and rose colors spiral their way round this bead. As said before: these old artists have composed these beads. They are ancient masterpieces of art.  


IV  16  - 14 * 10 * 9 mm
Red and black banded agate are extremely rare. This natural color combination has never been seen before! Maybe these two beads are the only of their kind who has 'survived' up till today. Not for sale, unless 'insane' price is offered.  


IV  17  -  13* 8 mm
The red color in this fantastic agate bead looks almost like it has been etched into the stone. However, it is natural.  


IV  18 -   19 * 6 mm
Price: 600 usd
Eye bead - This is the back side of the bead. Look in the eye bead section to see the front side.  


IV  19   -   22 - 20 * 9 mm
Price: 800 usd
I think this incredible bead is made out of fossilized Jasper. The Indus people loved to make beads out of rare materials.  


IV  20 -   18 * 11 mm
In this bead the bands of red, yellow and brown are very thin.   


IV  21  -  22 * 11 mm
Price: 800 usd



IV  22 -    18 * 8 mm
Price: 800 usd



IV  23   - 19 * 11 * 10 mm - SOLD
In this bead it becomes clear that
the etched beads in the beginning very designed to copy the original stripes. It is strange that today's
collectors prefer the etched 'copies'.


IV  24  -  20 * 10 mm
Price: 800 usd


IV  25  -  23 * 9 mm
Price: 1200 usd
This agate bead is like an abstract painting. Just love it!  

The Indus civilization began to decline around 1900 BC, most likely due to a significant earthquake that redirected the course of multiple rivers that had once rendered this area one of the most fertile regions on the planet. However, the eastern and southern coastal parts of the Indus culture managed to endure for a more extended period. In India, particularly in Gujarat and Haryana, the Indus civilization continued until about 1300 BC, and in some isolated pockets such as Pirak, it likely persisted much longer. Harvard archaeologist Richard Meadow highlights the late Harappan settlement of Pirak, which endured up to the time of Alexander the Great's invasion in 325 BC.

Discoveries of an Indus site in Maharashtra suggest that this remarkable civilization expanded into the Deccan plateau in its later period. It even appeared to reach Uttar Pradesh on the Gangetic plain like a fading wave.

In these more eastern regions, the Indus civilization likely merged into what is termed the Classic historic period of India, beginning around 200 BC. My theory is that in these and other isolated regions in India, parts of the craftsmanship and culture of the Indus people were passed down to classical India, thereby allowing them to continue evolving.

IV  26  -  19 * 9 mm
Price: 1300 usd
Man made or natural motif?  

In what is often referred to as the mature Harappan period, from 2600 to 1900 BC, the art of beadmaking reached its zenith. Since then, with a few exceptions, this art form has been in a gradual decline. Rakhigarhi might represent one of these exceptions. Some of the most beautiful beads, in my opinion, originate from this region, and you can see them displayed here! It's plausible that in Rakhigarhi, the art of the Indus bead masters survived beyond their own civilization for thousands of years, and reached a new peak by merging with the much later unique Mauryan stone polishing techniques. The way the beads displayed below are polished is simply sublime! In my view, they are better polished than traditional Indus Valley beads. However, I leave it to you to decide on this assertion.

As Horace Beck points out in his book, "Beads from Taxila", it's not uncommon to find much older and already used beads showing significan**t wear in Buddhist relic caskets. If these beads are significantly older than the Buddhist period in India, they're most likely Indus beads. What does the use of much older Indus beads in these caskets signify? It illustrates that beads were treasured in an unbroken, continuous tradition, extending from the enigmatic Indus culture into the emerging empires of Chandragupta Maurya and his Buddhist grandson, Ashoka the Great.

IV  27  -   20 * 8 mm
Price: 900 usd

Indeed, it's worth remembering that without Ashoka's influence, Prince Siddharta (also known as Buddha) could have remained a local spiritual leader among the many 'Buddhas' who meditated in the prosperous and highly urbanized Gangetic plain of that time.

The beads displayed on this page, therefore, might not necessarily be from the mature
Mauryan period, but could instead be Buddhist/Jain beads from the much later Mauryan period. Given that Haryana remained a vibrant urban area until around 100 AD, such a hypothesis could be plausible. If that were the case - and I concede this is purely speculative - these beads would incorporate two of the greatest peaks of Indian civilization: the Indus Valley and the Mauryan periods!

Such a blend of cultural influences in these artifacts would serve to highlight the deep history of craftsmanship in India and the continuity of artistic traditions across different epochs and dynasties. Despite the uncertainties that surround the exact origins of these beautiful objects, their intricate designs, exquisite craftsmanship, and enduring beauty underscore the rich cultural legacy of India's past.

IV  28   - 18 * 10 * 7 mm
Price: 900 usd


IV  29  - 27 * 9 mm
Price: 1000 usd
A soft motif made of dark red and green colors. Very very rare agate bead.  





IV  31  21 * 9 mm
Price: 600 usd


IV  32  - 23 * 7 mm
Price: 1000 usd
Tubularly shaped bead   


IV 33  - 25 * 10 mm
Price: 1200 usd
Note the red colour in a wonder banded display of five different colours!  



IV  34    -   15 * 10 mm
Price: 600 usd



IV  35  -  18 * 10 mm
Price: 900 usd
In this awesome bead it is clear to
see how the etching of beads was an attempt to copy mother nature.





IV  36   - 14 * 8 mm - SOLD
On this rare ancient bead you will find four different versions of red color!  






IV  37  - 18 * 8 mm
Mother nature's natural banding. Look at the hole of this bead...
Almost no bead artists in the later periods could make such holes!



IV  38   -  15 * 10 mm
Price: 900 usd



IV  39  -  19 * 10 mm
Price: 900 usd


IV  40   -  20 * 11 mm
Price: 900 usd




IV  40
Price: 900 usd
Rare amazonite from Gujarat or Orissa  


IV  41
Price: 1000 usd



IV  43    - 9 * 7 mm
Price: SOLD




IV  41  - - 13 * 9 mm
Price: 900 usd
In this bead you can see
formations of crystal quartz


The beauty of translucent beads is a bit difficult to display on a website. Unfortunately, it is impossible to capture the real shine of a translucent bead.  The 3-dimensional luster can only be experienced when you have the bead in your hand. Still, I hope you can get a glimpse of the magic shine emanating from these ancient beads! The translucent shine of the bead
TIVB 2 has not diminished in over 3000 years!
Many of these beads have not been heat treated.

A beautiful bead is a messenger transcending time
As you look through the stone you pierce through time. The same shine that has captivated the bead makers in the golden Indus Valley still shines bright even today!

A timeless bond between you and your ancestors living countless generations before you is established in this fascination of translucent bead-beauty.



'Cooked' Multi Colored Translucent Banded Agate Beads

IV-TL  2 - 24 * 6 mm
Price: 1100 usd

Click on picture for larger image






IV-TL 5  - 22 * 11 mm
Price: 700 usd

IV-TL 6 -   21 * 8 mm
Price: 750 usd

IV-TL 8   -  20 * 7 mm
Price: 900 usd



IV-TL 9   -  23 * 7 mm
Price: 1000 usd

IV-TL 10   - 15 * 8 mm
Price: 900 usd

IV-TL 11   - 19 * 10 mm
Price: 950 usd


IV-TL 12   - 14 * 7 mm
Price: 800 usd

According to Horace Beck the flattened bead is an Indian invention:
Another very curious feature of the Indian bead is that so many of the regular forms are flattened, the circular section becoming an irregular one with two sides much greater than the other.
(Beads of Taxila p.8)

In the following display, you will observe a lot of flattened beads.

'Cooked', heat treated flat shaped translucent Carnelian Beads

The next series is showing heat treated lenticular beads. The deep carnelian color is not so dominant in these beads.

Maybe they were only heat treated through repeated sun exposure.

IV-C 1    - 19 * 10 * 8 mm
Price: 900 usd

IV-C 2   - 16 * 12 * 7 mm
Price: 800 usd

IV-C 3   - 13 * 11 * 5 mm
Price: 700 usd

IV-C 4   - 14 * 10 * 5 mm
Price: 800 usd

IV-C 5  - 12 * 9 * 6 mm
Price: 600 usd


IV-C 6   - 14 * 8 * 5 mm
Price: 850 usd


IV-C 7   - 13 * 10 * 5 mm
Price: 900 usd


IV-C 8   - 13 * 10 * 7 mm
Price: 900 usd


IV-C 9   - 17 * 10 * 6 mm
Price: 900 usd


IV-C 1O   - 18 * 10 * 5 mm - SOLD

Flat shaped multicolored variegated jasper


IV-F 1   -  19 * 11 * 8 mm
Price: 1000 usd


IV-F 2   - 13 * 8 * 6 mm
Price: 1000 usd


IV-F  3   - 23 * 11 * 5 mm -SOLD


IV-F 4   - 21 * 6 * 5 mm
Price: 1000 usd


IV-F 5   - 19 * 11 * 7 mm
Price: 900 usd

IV-F 6   - 15 * 8 * 5 mm
Price: 1000 usd

IV-F 7   - 22 * 12 * 8 mm
Price: 1000 usd

IV-F 8   - 17 * 12 * 8 mm
Price: 900 usd

 IV-F 9   - 18 * 11 * 7 mm
Price: 1000 usd


IV-F 10   -   18 * 11 * 6 mm
Price: 900 usd


IV-F 13   -  14 * 9 * 4 mm
Price: 900 usd -Highly unusual color


IV-F 14     - 13 * 10 * 7 mm
Price: 800 usd

Beads in all form and shapes

The ancient Indus Valley people went to great efforts to obtain agate stones for making beads of right colors, shapes, and sizes.
Among all these shapes the flatly shaped beads are among the most interesting - especially the lenticular shaped ones. Lesser cooked beads make the task of chipping the beads into shape more difficult!
On top of it many of the beads in this series are translucent.

Unfortunately, the luster of 'uncooked' - not heat treated - carnelian is difficult to display through a photo scan.

Still I am sure you will enjoy the mastery of the ancient bead makers.

As you can observe, these beads have the white color in common.
White was and is a holy color in Buddhism. Are these beads Buddhist beads? As stated on a different page on this site there is a yet unexplored link between the Indus Culture and the early Buddhist culture. As previous stated, these beads here present an historical overlap between the Indus culture and the early classical period. The early classical time also called the second urbanisation period is the time of the rising of the Buddha! Many of these beads may very well have been amulets and protectors of the early Buddhist.

Note here the white color on the beads. This is not a coincidence. These beads are made with white design deliberately.

The true color of Buddhism?
In Tibetan Buddhism, the black sulemani beads have become synonymous with Buddhist talismanic power. Especially the Chinese prefer to copy this trend.

However I dare to say that white was and still is the true Buddhist color!
In Tibetan Buddhism there is a strong element of Bön, the original shamanistic and animistic belief systems prevalent before Buddhism arrived in Tibet. Buddhism was now, as the case is in many other Buddhist cultures, constructed as a layer upon what was already there.

Let me sum it up in a thought provoking way:

White is the true pure color of Buddhism...

Black might rather belong to the 'dark' magic of the Bön shamans.

'Uncooked', white lenticular shaped translucent carnelian Beads


IV-U 2   - 19 * 12 * 7 mm
Price: 1000 usd

IV-U 3   - 18 * 12 * 5 mm
Price: 1000 usd

IV-U 4   - 22 * 13 * 6 mm
Price: 1000 usd

IV-U 5  - 15 * 11 * 6 mm
Price: 900 usd

IV-U 6   - 17 * 10 * 6 mm
Price: 900 usd

IV-U 7  -  19 * 10 * 8 mm
Price: 900 usd

IV-U 8  -  16 * 10 * 8 mm - SOLD

IV-U 9  -  19 * 10 * 7 mm
Price: 1200 usd

 IV-U 10- 11 * 8 * 5 mm
Price: 700 usd

Translucent, uncooked, banded agate - white/grey


IV-TBA 1   - 26 * 9 mm
Price: 1100 usd


IV-TBA 2   - 19 * 10 mm
Price: 1000 usd


IV-TBA 3   - 21 * 9 mm
Price: 1100 usd

IV-TBA 4   - 18 * 12 mm
Price: 1100 usd

IV-TBA 5   -   20  * 10 mm
Price: 1100 usd


IV-TBA 6   - 21 * 8 mm
Price: 1100 usd


IV-TBA 7   - 25 * 10 mm
Price: 900 usd

IV-TBA 8   -  20 * 7 mm
Price: 1100 usd

IV-TBA 9   - 19 * 12 mm
Price: 900 usd


IV-TBA 10   - 19 * 9 mm
Price: 900 usd


IV-TBA 11   - 21 * 5 mm
Price: 1000 usd

IV-TBA 12   - 21 * 7 mm 
Price: 1100 usd

IV-TBA 13   - 22 * 7 mm
Price: 1000 usd

IV-TBA 14   - 15 * 8 mm
Price: 900 usd

IV-TBA 15   - 18 * 8 mm
Price: 800 usd


IV-TBA 17   - 12 * 6 mm
Price: 600 usd

IV-TBA 18   - 18 * 6 mm
Price: 1000 usd


IV-OIV 16  -  A unique translucent pendant bead
Price: 800 usd




Rakhigarhi, Jagadhari, Yamuna Nagar