Indus Valley Culture & Mauryan bead making

The bead as zero

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


Some of the beads
are for sale

through bead ID
for price



An ideal bead is for me both ancient, beautiful and individual!
Each of the beads displayed on this page here would be stunning even if they were new!

Any lover of ancient beads must agree that these beads are highly unusual. Of course I am biased because I own these wonderful beads. However I dare to challenge you dear reader: Have you anywhere on the net, in books, or in your hand come across more beautiful beads than the ones
displayed here?
Of course you have... but not often I guess.

IV  -   19 * 10 mm

A unique agate bead with 6-colored
motif and crystalline bands

One of the simple  reasons behind
the creation of these perfect and

beautiful holes is time:
Ample of time just
to sit with one bead.

These beads are not typically mainstream ancient beads. They are among the most perfect and beautiful beads I have ever seen! Just taker a closer look at the holes... These large and perfect holed Indus beads are like cultural messengers - each of them in the language of stone.
Shapes, forms, material and colors - all are bearing witness to an age where there was ample time to sit with a single piece of agate and wait for the right bead to emerge. The Indus people most probably used rare and special beads to reflect the status of the owner.

The exceptional beads displayed here are from Rakhigarhi in Haryana. Recent discoveries of new mounds in Rakigarhi have emerged as the biggest and probably oldest of all Indus areas. This region remarkably has been continuously populated from pre-Indus times up to 100 AD. In the near by Bhirrana a newly found site could be dated back to around 7000 BC. We are here facing an area that has been a home for civilizations for more than 9000 years!
However these wonderful beads presented here are most probably from the late area of the Indus valley period.

These new finds indicate that the Indus Valley civilization did not, as until now presumed, originate from Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the area that nowadays is known as Pakistan. Most probably it was the other way around. The Indus civilization originated in Haryana in India - at least until we find new, even older mounds somewhere else.


IV  42   - 10 * 10 mm

Eye bead made of orbicular jasper. This is the back side. Look in the eye bead section to see the front side.

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  1 -  14 * 9 mm

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

In these rare ancient Indus beads one will often find what is referred to as variegated jasper. In this type of jasper there are up to 20 percent non-quartz elements. These elements account or the wide range of colors and decorative patterns.
Variegated jasper was the favorite gem stone of the Indus and Mesopotamian people. However you will also observe a lot of really unusual types of agate in this Indus exhibition.

IV  2 -

A wonderful 3 colored bead with a golden angle motif. It has stunning artistic banding and colour tones.


As you can see in most of the beads, symmetry plays an important role in choosing-creating the motives. Often you can also find the golden angle in the motives.
In the magic Eye Beads the eye is almost always placed in the symmetric middle or in the golden angle position. 


IV 3  -     17 * 11 mm

In this amazing bead you can see at least 6 different colours! You can also see the rare red cinnabar 'blood spots' on this bead. The old craftsmen used copper drills drills to make these holes. How could these people drill such beautiful holes with such primitive tools?
This gorgeous multi colored bead is one of my absolute favorites and it is not for sale.


What stand out for both these agate and jasper beads are the huge variation in colors and
strange mineral 'landscapes'.

They reflect the strive for the sublime made bead made out of the sublime material.

IV 4 -   18 * 10 mm

A 3 colored bead with
a beautiful golden angle motif.

These beads are composed pieces of art where
the beauty of the stone patterns are revealed by their makers. They are made out of the human intention to create beauty. Around 3000 years ago they came out of raw stone to let itself be displayed on this page. 


IV  5 -     23 * 7 mm

A tubular shaped jasper bead with
3-colored spiral

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


Believing that the 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

A beautiful and very rare colour 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 coloured 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 s 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 historic acceleration of time to the equation.
To sum it up: Magic beads are made in ample time ... Time is love

IV  7   - 21 * 9 mm

At least four different colors in this subtle colored banded agate bead.


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 special 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

A quick comparison to the culture of DZI beads make 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 its 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  

A tubular shaped agate bead with a soft rosa colored motif. The eye formation in the midle is less visible.  


Beads as currency & magic talismen

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 a animistic world consisting of many layers of reality reaching from gross existence to spirit dimensions.

IV  10   -  17 * 11 mm

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


In the historic periods to follow the Indus culture beads started to loose 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 posses 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 contaxt 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 spiral striped bead.



IV  13   -  17 * 9 mm
A beautiful and higly unusual color blend displaying a symmetrical,
yet swirling motif in agate. Very very rare bead and almost not for sale.


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


IV 15    - 21 * 9 mm
Soft yellow and rosa colours spiral their way round this bead. As said before: these old artist 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 colour combination have 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. SOLD  


IV  18 -   19 * 6 mm
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
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



IV  22 -    18 * 8 mm



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


IV  24  -  20 * 10 mm


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


The Indus civilization began to decline around 1900 BC, most probably due to a huge earthquake that changed the course of the life depending multiple rivers that so far had made this area to one of the most fertile areas on the planet. The eastern and southern costal parts of the Indus culture however survived for a longer period. In India, especially in Gujarat and Haryana the Indus civilization continued until around 1300 BC and in some isolated pockets like Pirak, probably even much longer.
Harvard archaeologist Richard Meadow points to the late Harappan settlement of Pirak, which continued to live to the time of the invasion of Alexander the Great in 325 BC.

Discoveries of an Indus site in Maharashtra indicates that this marvelous civilization in its late period expanded into the Deccan plateau. It even like a fading wave reached Uttar Pradesh on the Gangetic plain.
In these more eastern areas the Indus civilization probably merged into what is termed Classic historic period of India beginning around 200 B.C. My theory is that here and other isolated areas in India parts of the craftsmanship and culture of the Indus people was handed over to classical India and in this way could continue to evolve.

IV  26  -  19 * 9 mm
Man made or natural motif?  

In what is referred to as the mature Harappan period from 2600 to 1900 B.C. expressions of bead art reached a climax. With exceptions, the art of bead making has been in a slow decline since then. Rakhigarhi might be such an exception.
Some of the most beautiful beads according to my opinion origin from this region and you can see them displayed here! It may be possible that in Rakhigarhi the Indus bead masters bead art survived beyond its 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! They are according to my view better polished than traditional Indus Valley beads. I leave it to you to be the judge of this statement.

As Horace Becks point out in his book, Beads from Taxilla, (p.1) it is not unusual to find much older and already used beads with a large amount of wear in Buddhist relic caskets. If these beads are much older than the Buddhist period in India they most probably are Indus beads. What does the use of much older Indus beads in these caskets signify? It shows that beads were valued in an unbroken continuous tradition from the mysterious Indus culture into the new rising empires of Chandragupta Maurya and his Buddhist grandson, Ashoka the Great.


IV  27  -   20 * 8 mm

It is in this context worth to remember, that without Ashoka, Prince Siddharta/Buddha, would just have been a local spiritual hero among hundreds of other 'Buddhas' meditating on the prosperous, at that time highly urban developed Gangetic plain.
Many of the beads on this page might therefore not be from the mature Harappan period, but could be Buddhist/Jain beads from the much later Mauryan period. This was possible because Haryana was continuously alive as an urban area up to 100 A.D. If thsi is the case, and I admit that it is pure speculation, the beads below incorporate the two greatest peaks of Indian civilization: the Indus and the Mauryan!


IV  28   - 18 * 10 * 7 mm


IV  29  - 27 * 9 mm
A soft motif made of dark red and green colours. Very very rare agate bead.  





IV  30  - 17 * 10 mm
The symmetry and harmony in the color composition in this bead is awesome.  





IV  31  21 * 9 mm


IV  32  - 23 * 7 mm
Tubular shaped bead   


IV 33  - 25 * 10 mm
Note the red colour in a wonder banded display of 5 different colours!  



IV  34    -   15 * 10 mm



IV  35  -  18 * 10 mm
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
On this rare ancient bead you will find 4 different versions of the red colour!  






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



IV  38   -  15 * 10 mm



IV  39  -  19 * 10 mm


IV  40   -  20 * 11 mm




IV  40
Rare amazonite from Orissa  


IV  41




IV  43    - 9 * 7 mm




IV  41  - - 13 * 9 mm
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 lustre 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 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 1     - 26 * 8 mm







IV-TL  2 - 24 * 6 mm

Click on picture for larger image






IV-TL 3    - 26 * 8 mm
Eye bead  




IV-TL 4   -   20 * 9 mm

A fantastic bead with spiralled red and crystal quartz bands!! I have never seen a bead like this.

Click on picture for larger image

Prize 5000 USD





IV-TL 5  - 22 * 11 mm

IV-TL 6 -   21 * 8 mm

IV-TL 7   - 24* 10 mm
Eye bead - Look in the eye bead section.  



IV-TL 8   -  20 * 7 mm



IV-TL 9   -  23 * 7 mm

IV-TL 10   - 15 * 8 mm

IV-TL 11   - 19 * 10 mm


IV-TL 12   - 14 * 7 mm

According to Horace Beck the flattened bead is an India 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 Taxilla 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 colour is not so  dominant in these beads.

Maybe they were only heat treated through repeated sun exposure.

IV-C 1    - 19 * 10 * 8 mm

IV-C 2   - 16 * 12 * 7 mm

IV-C 3   - 13 * 11 * 5 mm

IV-C 4   - 14 * 10 * 5 mm

IV-C 5  - 12 * 9 * 6 mm


IV-C 6   - 14 * 8 * 5 mm


IV-C 7   - 13 * 10 * 5 mm


IV-C 8   - 13 * 10 * 7 mm


IV-C 9   - 17 * 10 * 6 mm


IV-C 1O   - 18 * 10 * 5 mm - SOLD

Flat shaped multicolored variegated jasper


IV-F 1   -  19 * 11 * 8 mm


IV-F 2   - 13 * 8 * 6 mm


IV-F  3   - 23 * 11 * 5 mm -SOLD


IV-F 4   - 21 * 6 * 5 mm


IV-F 5   - 19 * 11 * 7 mm

IV-F 6   - 15 * 8 * 5 mm

IV-F 7   - 22 * 12 * 8 mm

IV-F 8   - 17 * 12 * 8 mm

 IV-F 9   - 18 * 11 * 7 mm


IV-F 10   -   18 * 11 * 6 mm


IV-F 11    - 21 * 8 * 6,5 mm
The photo scan shows clearly the special uneven surface on this bead and the one to the right. This polishing technique on these beads unusual with very rough abrasives.  



IV-F 12      - 21 * 8 * 6,5 mm



IV-F 13   -  14 * 9 * 4 mm


IV-F 14     - 13 * 10 * 7 mm


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 flat shaped beads are among the most interesting - especially the lenticular shaped ones. Uncooked beads makes 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 lustre 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 and the eearly Buddhist culture. As previous stated, these beads here present an historical overlap between the Indus culture and the early historic time. The early historic time also 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 prevalent white color on the beads. This is for sure 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 belongs to the 'dark' magic of the Bön shamans.

'Uncooked', white lenticular shaped translucent carnelian Beads


IV-U 1    - 25 * 20 * 7

IV-U 2   - 19 * 12 * 7 mm

IV-U 3   - 18 * 12 * 5 mm

IV-U 4   - 22 * 13 * 6 mm

IV-U 5  - 15 * 11 * 6 mm

IV-U 6   - 17 * 10 * 6 mm

IV-U 7  -  19 * 10 * 8 mm

IV-U 8  -  16 * 10 * 8 mm - SOLD

IV-U 9  -  19 * 10 * 7 mm

 IV-U 10- 11 * 8 * 5 mm

Very flat shaped  dual colored translucent Beads - 'uncooked'


IV-FTB 1   - 17 * 14 * 4 mm

IV-FTB 2   - 13 * 14 * 4 mm

IV-FTB 3   - 15 * 12 * 4 mm


IV-FTB 4   - 11 * 10 * 3 mm


Translucent, uncooked, banded agate - white/grey


IV-TBA 1   - 26 * 9 mm


IV-TBA 2   - 19 * 10 mm


IV-TBA 3   - 21 * 9 mm

IV-TBA 4   - 18 * 12 mm

IV-TBA 5   -   20  * 10 mm


IV-TBA 6   - 21 * 8 mm


IV-TBA 7   - 25 * 10 mm

IV-TBA 8   -  20 * 7 mm

IV-TBA 9   - 19 * 12 mm


IV-TBA 10   - 19 * 9 mm


IV-TBA 11   - 21 * 5 mm

IV-TBA 12   - 21 * 7 mm 

IV-TBA 13   - 22 * 7 mm

IV-TBA 14   - 15 * 8 mm

IV-TBA 15   - 18 * 8 mm


IV-TBA 17   - 12 * 6 mm

IV-TBA 18   - 18 * 6 mm














IV-OIV 16  -  A unique translucent pendant bead




Rakhigarhi, Jagadhari, Yamuna Nagar