MY FAVORITE ANCIENT BEADS - as seen with my Western eyes
If you are out hunting for the kind of sublime beauty as seen here, I have to warn you.
The ancient beads displayed on this particular page are not cheap! They are my favorite beads. I love them as far as you can love not living art-materials and would not mind to keep them as a custodian for this lifetime.


Here you can marvel at beads in a huge cultural, geographical and historical variety. They will come in all shapes, colors and patterns. Some of them will be scarred, even almost broken. Others will be so perfect that it is hard to believe, that they are ancient.
What binds them all together.... ?
It is beauty.



Click on the pictures for larger image


RB 1 - 31 * 7 mm - I have named this bead "The Perfection of Organic Symmetry".

What a beautiful and slim bead! A really rare Ancient Talisman. A multicolored Mauryan eye bead! In a high quality crafted bead like this nothing is accidental. I marvel at the composition.  It is a powerful demonstration of ancient abstract art work. Note the many different colors in organic and hence not sterile symmetry.

Form, design/motif & color
How a remarkable bead should look like is of course a subjective matter.
What is beautiful is, as stated often on this site, dependent on the eyes of the beholder. For people in China the bead has to be perfect without damage. For me an ancient bead in certain cases increases its beauty by imperfection. I can be remarkable in form, design, motif, color and/or in the story it can tell us.

The Western bead eye
I look at the bead with a Western eye. A Western eye like mine is not professionalized to see within a split second if a bead is fake or not. However it might be more childlike and innocent. Maybe it sees things that the professional trained eye does not see.
In fact could it be that the Asian Bead emperor wears no clothes? Are all our opinions and preferences not like clothes protecting us from the naked truth of every things impermanence? As I see it our ways of looking are made of dream material only to be percieved as real in an eco chamber creating a social construct of inter-subjective reality.
I know an Austrian bead collector. He will never purchase a perfect bead. Why? His father was an archeologist. That is why. Perfect beads are an anomaly boosted by Asian bead greed.

If you look at beads with the purpose of investing in bit(bead)coins, it is obvious that the perspective of your eyesight will be narrowed down. This type of Asian collectors in general have no historical and archeological knowledge. In a way they are similar to the modern super rich investor-collector of modern art. Here provenance plays a larger and larger role because this type of collector hardly has any interest or knowledge in the art piece he purchases. It is only seen as an investment.
So let get back to the world of ancient beads. I don't claim to be an expert. I also like almost perfect beads. However imperfections and scars are secondary in my choice of beads. If a bead displays beautiful colors, geometry, forms and shapes I rate that above all else.

When I look at the patterns in a bead I see holy geometrics. These poor beads never went to university. Their makers were also not literate. However, the patterns follow the universal rules of mathematics and geometrics.

Hence the ancient bead reminds me that the world is not only governed by blind chaos. The chaos is as intelligent as the cosmos. It is just a form of intelligence we have yet not deciphered.
The longing for absolute perfection is often dangerous, especially when collectively crystallized in politics. It reflects a totalitarian mindset.
Also on the individual level the striving for perfection often turns out not to be healthy. I guess some of you dear readers already had some similar thoughts on that subject. I see the scarred old bead as a perfect projection field for my self. In me there is spite of my scars and age still Kalos Kai Agathos . There is still a firm life experienced belief in the the beautiful good and just.



RB 2 - 23 * 9 mm - I call this bead: Proof of God

Don't misunderstand me. I also love perfect beads, but only set as an organic part of a mosaic of perfectly imperfect beads.
Recently at a bead fair in Bangkok I had the immense luck to get some for me one out of a million perfection beads. The mainland Chinese buyers did not even look at these rare and perfect beads. For me they are out of this world, but totally bypassed in the blindness that always comes with greed. A great example is the extremely rare Indo-Parthian bead displayed below:



RB - 42.5 * 14 mm

The picture below displays some of the absolute unique translucency in this super sublime bead.
The picture above shows the bead when not lighted up from behind.

As a general rule rule a sublime ancient bead should display high contrast in both lines and colors. A display of as many distinctive different natural colors as possible further adds to a beads 'remarkability' score. This is particularly true when it comes to agate beads. However this is not the case with the bead displayed below.


RB - 26 * 13 mm



RB  - 38 * 9,5 * 8 mm - I have baptized this bead 'The Stone Rose'.


I have never seen a bead type like the specimen displayed above. The top of this awesome multicolored eye agate bead is shining like a precious stone!

In fact I consider all my Indus beads, both the early and the late to be remarkable. However displayed on this page you will see some of the most outstanding ones within this category.


RB - (INDUS EIV 73)  - 37,5 * 10,5 mm



 RB - (IV  30)  - 17 * 10 mm




IV  7   - 21 * 9 mm



RB - (INDUS IV  13)   -  17 * 9 mm




RB  - (INDUS IV 3)  -     17 * 11 mm



RB - (INDUS EIV  5) - 30 * 7 mm



 RB - (INDUS EIV  14)  - 30 *  7,5 mm - Go 2 banded sandstone section
Extremely rare intact banded soft sandstone bead


RB - (INDUS IV -TL 4)   -   20 * 9 mm


IV  -   19 * 10 mm


RB - (IV 4) -   18 * 10 mm



RB - (INDUS IV  2) -



RB -  (INDUS IV 4) -   18 * 10 mm




RB - (INDUS IV-TL 3)    - 26 * 8 mm




(EIV 92) - 26,5 * 12 mm




RB - (INDUS IV-TL 1)     - 26 * 8 mm




RB - (INDUS EIV 17)  - 47 * 10,5 mm




RB - (INDUS EIV 19) - 53 * 14 mm




EIV 23 - 39 * 10 mm




RB - (INDUS EIV  29) - 34,5 * 9 mm




RB - (INDUS EIV 33)  - 33 * 9 mm




EIV 79 - 29,5 * 12 mm




RB - (INDUS EIV  45) - 38 * 13 mm




RB - (INDUS EIV 60) - 36,5 * 11 mm




RB - (EIV 58)  - 30 * 11 mm




BR - (EIV 57) - 38 * 14 * 11,5 mm




RB - (EIV 170)  - 42,5 * 13 mm




EIV 175  - 32 * 9 mm




RB - (EIV  44) - 45 * 14 mm




RB - (IV-TL 7)   - 24* 10 mm




RB - (INDUS EIV 78)  - 25,5 * 12,5 mm




RB   - 25 * 17 * 6,5 mm





 RB - (EIV 16)  - 35 * 9,5 mm





RB - (EIV  65) - 30,5 * 11 mm




RB - (EIV  66) - 24 * 9 mm












 RB - (EIV 3)  -  66,5 * 19,5 mm




RB - (IV 56)  - 33 * 13 mm




RB - 39 * 8,5 mm
Green banded jasper bead
Note the color difference from dark green to lighter green





RB - (EIV 49)  - 36 * 12 mm












IV-TBA 7   - 25 * 10 mm











Seen with my western eyes, a remarkable bead does not need to be perfect to be beautiful. Often I love the scarred bead more than the perfect one. Scars and cracks can be the kintsugi of time, both made by man and time itself.


RB  - 


Use a loupe to discover the hidden
micro world of ancient beads!
f you are in possession of a truly remarkable and ancient bead, I recommend you to have a good loupe at hand. That will enable you to dive deeper into the micro world of the bead. Here you can discover marvelous patterns and colors so far hidden from the eyes of normal everyday attention. Beads can be like miniature paintings.


 RB  -  15 * 9 mm

Click here for a super close up



As displayed above you can see that a pattern does not need to be symmetrical to qualify for the sublime. I am not perfect and therefore I cannot see myself mirrored in a perfect bead. When there somehow is an intuitive sync between my imperfection and the imperfection of the bead, it becomes easier for me to let the scars of the bead heal my scars - not in the sense that the scars disappears - on the contrary: The synergy of scars becomes an existential act of post modern wabi-sabi. Here I realize that it is the very scars that makes me beautiful and alive, I become an out-standing individual human being thanks to my scars.



Be grateful for your scars!

So can in some ways be used as a post modern psychotherapeutic site! It provides tools for the rare ones that has seen the tremendous potentiality in cultivating gratefulness for so called 'negative' things that happened to them in their life. As C.G. Jung pointed out many years ago we grow by making our darkness conscious.


RB  - 26 * 16 mm
  Another truly remarkable multicolored agate bead with a dark infinite eye placed within the boundaries of a fiery sharp and golden rhombic pattern.

I call this bead The Eye of Mordor.



Beads are like music
I am also a music composer and producer. When I make live recordings in multi layers in my digital studio I am often not able to keep the rhythm in such a way that the sum total of tracks are in sync. In such situations I am tempted to use a function called automatic quantize. However if I use this function the music becomes sterile and dull. Perfection often equals death.




RB  - 23 * 16 mm
  Note the strong contrasts in this dramatic two eyed sulemani bead in soft blue, strong white and black colors.

I call this bead
Duality in unity





RB  - 21,5 * 17 * 14,5 mm
  Here we have a super sharp all seeing eye bead in a variety of soft autumn colors. I dare to say that these beads rivals the best contemporary art.

I have named this bead
The Autumn Eye





RB  - 24,5 * 11 mm

  The patina of this eye-bead is unique in the way it supports and amplifies the natural lines in the original stone. It is almost as if the bead is looking at you!

The name of this bead is
Concentric layers of 'I'





RB  - 




The patterns in this perfectly imperfect bead is fractal. The same is true for landscapes and continents. With a little imagination I can see Africa or South America in the central motif. In the left eye formation I see a person with crossed legs in Meditation. My conclusion on a meta level: I am a fractal. It takes a fractal to know one.


RB  - 38 * 15 mm

I call this bead
The Fractality of Me



Also this bead displays fractality. Note how the 'head' in the first photo is repeated in the second photo.





34.5 * 9 mm




28 * 8 mm




RB 13 - 31 * 11 mm
Not for sale
A wonderful ancient translucent natural banded Chung DZI bead with a unique 'patina'. It displays dual, organic symmetrical swirling stripes. The bead has a translucent fiery orange color, which gives a marvellous contrast to the natural white stripes. This color has been made stronger by ancient heat treatment.

I call this bead Divine Eye Candy































RB - (EIV  65) - 30,5 * 11 mm






RB - (EIV 10) - 17 * 11,5 mm



 RB - EIV 4 - 23 * 20 * 9 mm

The repetetive geometric patterns on this variegated jasper Indus-bead speaks for itself. The bead is scarred, but it still manages to pass on the ancient message of beauty understood as order in chaos.

I call this bead
Perfect imperfection




RB - EIV 4  - 24 * 18 * 7,5 mm



RB - (EIV 2)  - 41 * 28 * 11 mm
Fossilized corals - sandstone




EIV 1  - 56 * 20 mm



 EIV 3  -  66,5 * 19,5 mm            









47 * 13 mm

Click on pictures for larger images

I call this bead The Yoni

The largest Yoni bead I have ever seen!
This super rare Indus bead is made out of amazonite.



RB 10 - 39 * 20 * 9 mm
I call this bead The Cheetah

In the case of RB 8 I have chosen to display it here because there is an animal engraved in the bead. This is very very rare. I have only seen one other Indus bead with an engrave. It displays a bull motif and belongs to Mr. Tira in Bangkok. You  can see it here:

The animal shown on RB 8 cannot be identified with certainty. However due to its long tail it resembles a predator, in which case it most probably would be be a cheetah.

Terra cotta - Quetta, Pakistan
The cheetah can as the only member of the family
of the big cats, be tamed. Note the rope around
the neck of the cheetah. The Indus people used
domesticated cheetahs for the purpose of hunting.




The Mesopotamian Mystery ... The worlds smallest 3-eyed bead?


RB 12 - 8,5 * 3,5 * 2,5 mm

  How strange it may sound... I found this tiny 3-eyed bead in a plastic bag of broken beads that followed a lot of Indus beads I purchased in Bangkok. On the photo above you can see the content of the bag including this tiny eye bead. The bead is in such good condition that it even could pass the test of being examined by Chinese eyes.
I have never seen such a bead before. It was indeed a mystery. However the solution
came when I at the Bangkok bead fair 2017 observed similar beads on a bead timeline board made by Li Yu, MA, lecturer at Sichuan University and Han Muzhe, PHD student, Central China Normal University. They explained to me that this type of tiny eye beads were manufactured in ancient Mesopotamia and then exported to the Indus Valley.

I have baptized this bead: The Mesopotamian Mystery


This tiny 3-eyed bead reminds me of the very small steatite beads, often not more than on millimeter, found in Harappa. These almost microscopic beads show extraordinary skill and patience in their manufacture, a skill similar to the one used in the eye bead above.

The King Bead


RB - KB  -  74 * 64 * 36 mm
  From one extreme to the other... I have named this colossal bead The King Bead.
This is a highly unusual bead. I guess this is the only one of its kind. Note how the color of the backside of the bead has been changed by generations of contact with human skin. I would call this a wonderful patina made by sweat of Kings.

This remarkable bead does not stand out because of its patterns or due to variations in color. On the contrary it is uniform. However here the pure and even material becomes a virtue in itself. Such a large pattern less
without any change is in itself an almost impossible find! The beautiful green stone is in itself a rare gem. Only in the most rare cases you will find a pure even and homogeneous Chrysoprase stone in this size!

The shape of this unique ancient bead forms an abstract stylized tortoise. This is no coincidence. The tortoise is an incarnation of the god Vishnu, the God that upholds the balance on earth and in human civilizations, and this is exactly the task for the good king. My guess is that this huge bead has served as a Royal Insignia worn by a line of Hindu Kings somewhere in ancient India. This can be substantiated by the ancient text Brihatsamhita that states that a King should keep a tortoise as an auspicious sign. (Distinctive Beads in Ancient India, Maurya Jyotsna p.47)


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Contact: Gunnar Muhlman -