Indus Valley Culture & Mauryan bead making

The bead as zero

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




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.
These beads are not typically mainstream ancient beads. They are among the most perfect and beautiful beads I have ever seen! Just take 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 unusual 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 nearby 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  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: 250 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 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 gemstone of the Indus and Mesopotamian people. However, you will also observe a lot of really unusual types of Agate in this Indus exhibition.

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. 

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.

These beads are composed pieces of art where
the beauty of the stone patterns is 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
Price: 300 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: 250 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: 300 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: 275 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: 300 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: 250 usd
A  color composition in soft red
and green.


IV 15    - 21 * 9 mm
Price: 300 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
Price: 250 usd
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
Price: 200 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: 275 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
Price: 300 usd
In this bead the bands of red, yellow and brown are very thin.   


IV  21  -  22 * 11 mm
Price: 200 usd



IV  22 -    18 * 8 mm
Price: 200 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: 200 usd


IV  25  -  23 * 9 mm
Price: 300 usd
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
Price: 400 usd

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 Taxila, (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
Price: 300 usd

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 this 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
Price: 250 usd


IV  29  - 27 * 9 mm
Price: 350 usd
A soft motif made of dark red and green colors. Very very rare agate bead.  





IV  31  21 * 9 mm
Price: 200 usd


IV  32  - 23 * 7 mm
Price: 300 usd
Tubularly shaped bead   


IV 33  - 25 * 10 mm
Price: 300 usd
Note the red colour in a wonder banded display of five different colours!  



IV  34    -   15 * 10 mm
Price: 200 usd



IV  35  -  18 * 10 mm
Price: 250 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: 250 usd



IV  39  -  19 * 10 mm
Price: 275 usd


IV  40   -  20 * 11 mm
Price: 275 usd




IV  40
Price: 350 usd
Rare amazonite from Gujarat or Orissa  


IV  41
Price: 300 usd



IV  43    - 9 * 7 mm
Price: 200 usd




IV  41  - - 13 * 9 mm
Price: 250 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: 350 usd

Click on picture for larger image






IV-TL 5  - 22 * 11 mm
Price: 250 usd

IV-TL 6 -   21 * 8 mm
Price: 275 usd

IV-TL 8   -  20 * 7 mm
Price: 300 usd



IV-TL 9   -  23 * 7 mm
Price: 300 usd

IV-TL 10   - 15 * 8 mm
Price: 250 usd

IV-TL 11   - 19 * 10 mm
Price: 275 usd


IV-TL 12   - 14 * 7 mm
Price: 225 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: 300 usd

IV-C 2   - 16 * 12 * 7 mm
Price: 300 usd

IV-C 3   - 13 * 11 * 5 mm
Price: 275 usd

IV-C 4   - 14 * 10 * 5 mm
Price: 300 usd

IV-C 5  - 12 * 9 * 6 mm
Price: 200 usd


IV-C 6   - 14 * 8 * 5 mm
Price: 250 usd


IV-C 7   - 13 * 10 * 5 mm
Price: 250 usd


IV-C 8   - 13 * 10 * 7 mm
Price: 250 usd


IV-C 9   - 17 * 10 * 6 mm
Price: 275 usd


IV-C 1O   - 18 * 10 * 5 mm - SOLD

Flat shaped multicolored variegated jasper


IV-F 1   -  19 * 11 * 8 mm
Price: 300 usd


IV-F 2   - 13 * 8 * 6 mm
Price: 300 usd


IV-F  3   - 23 * 11 * 5 mm -SOLD


IV-F 4   - 21 * 6 * 5 mm
Price: 300 usd


IV-F 5   - 19 * 11 * 7 mm
Price: 300 usd

IV-F 6   - 15 * 8 * 5 mm
Price: 300 usd

IV-F 7   - 22 * 12 * 8 mm
Price: 300 usd

IV-F 8   - 17 * 12 * 8 mm
Price: 275 usd

 IV-F 9   - 18 * 11 * 7 mm
Price: 300 usd


IV-F 10   -   18 * 11 * 6 mm
Price: 275 usd


IV-F 13   -  14 * 9 * 4 mm
Price: 300 usd


IV-F 14     - 13 * 10 * 7 mm
Price: 250 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: 300 usd

IV-U 3   - 18 * 12 * 5 mm
Price: 350 usd

IV-U 4   - 22 * 13 * 6 mm
Price: 300 usd

IV-U 5  - 15 * 11 * 6 mm
Price: 250 usd

IV-U 6   - 17 * 10 * 6 mm
Price: 250 usd

IV-U 7  -  19 * 10 * 8 mm
Price: 250 usd

IV-U 8  -  16 * 10 * 8 mm - SOLD

IV-U 9  -  19 * 10 * 7 mm
Price: 400 usd

 IV-U 10- 11 * 8 * 5 mm
Price: 200 usd

Translucent, uncooked, banded agate - white/grey


IV-TBA 1   - 26 * 9 mm
Price: 350 usd


IV-TBA 2   - 19 * 10 mm
Price: 300 usd


IV-TBA 3   - 21 * 9 mm
Price: 350 usd

IV-TBA 4   - 18 * 12 mm
Price: 350 usd

IV-TBA 5   -   20  * 10 mm
Price: 350 usd


IV-TBA 6   - 21 * 8 mm
Price: 350 usd


IV-TBA 7   - 25 * 10 mm
Price: 350 usd

IV-TBA 8   -  20 * 7 mm
Price: 350 usd

IV-TBA 9   - 19 * 12 mm
Price: 250 usd


IV-TBA 10   - 19 * 9 mm
Price: 250 usd


IV-TBA 11   - 21 * 5 mm
Price: 300 usd

IV-TBA 12   - 21 * 7 mm 
Price: 350 usd

IV-TBA 13   - 22 * 7 mm
Price: 300 usd

IV-TBA 14   - 15 * 8 mm
Price: 250 usd

IV-TBA 15   - 18 * 8 mm
Price: 300 usd


IV-TBA 17   - 12 * 6 mm
Price: 200 usd

IV-TBA 18   - 18 * 6 mm
Price: 300 usd


IV-OIV 16  -  A unique translucent pendant bead
Price: 300 usd




Rakhigarhi, Jagadhari, Yamuna Nagar