Philosopher's Bead Stone
Let me straight away confess: Ancientbead.com is
not a scientific site.
I am not a
bead scientist and do not make any claims of being even
a bead expert.
I am just drawn to the idea of seeing the world through
the perspective of a hole in a piece of stone. What you
will find here is a stream
of consciousness passing through that tiny hole.
Not to be
framed within a traditional scientist mindset gives on
the other hand more freedom to explore different
theories as ways of stringing together already known
information in new ways.
Most of the extrapolated thoughts presented here are
based on evidence, not evidence from books alone, but
evidence validated from my body being present for years together in the countries from where the Beads have been sourced. Knowledge from books and from people who have their information from books alone is not sufficient.
If you don't have extensive 'bodily'
experience, your knowledge is in danger of being out of
touch with reality. Somehow it is necessary to travel in a third-class bus
in a third world country, to come to know that country.
I love to store half-baked bread. It can always be
heated once more and served fresh.
I must admit that not all of my essayistic thoughts are
fully backed by sufficient evidence. I do however feel
confident that many of them intuitively can point
towards right directions which slowly can be substantiated with more evidence. If not so, I will only be too happy to deconstruct my theories.
I with this invite you to comment on my writing
and give your opinion as a valuable gift for this site and the exploration of ancient beads.
Are you touched by the REAL?
Please have a click on the
Early Indus Valley Beads.
There I am writing a
few words on how many people we were on the whole globe... not many
as compared to now. Let us take these thoughts a bit further. How large a percentage,
how many people living today will be able to hold something
really real in their hands? Just think about it....
I mean something ancient made by human effort.
It may be a bead or a pot - it does not matter. Today most humans are
surrounded by the simulacra of plastic fantastic and
digital mirages. Most of them don't mind, but my
prediction is that more and more people will wake up
from their smartphone slumber and start longing and
something that is not a simulation.
In this way, the meeting with an Indus bead
represents a possibility at least for a split second to leave the matrix
of modern materialism. By holding five thousand years of silent history
in our hands we might realize how much the sound of our modern world
sounds like a CD. Now compare that sound to the sound of an old LP.
Real is rare
In Thailand, the longing for the real is already happening big time!
The Thais are passionate collectors of ancient artifacts. I
recently visited this wonderful country with its even
more wonderful people. To my big surprise, I here
discovered a huge community of ancient bead collectors
from all walks of life and from young to old. I was
invited to a closed Facebook group of Thai bead lovers.
Can you imagine how many people there are in this group?
Beads and meta-consciousness
Peter Francis Jr. said: The study of ancient beads is really the study of ancient people.
I also like to explore the one who studies beads and would, therefore,
reformulate the above sentence: The study of ancient beads is really
the study of the people who study them.
That of course, includes the study of myself.
What we see and find in
the beads is much more our own projections and modern way of
perceiving and thinking. Even the expert often knows far less about
ancient beads and the ancient people wearing them than he is willing to
admit. I have in my long life been in many walks of life as an academic.
What has surprised me in the bead world is the absolute certainty with
which some bead experts proclaim their own private truth as the
ultimate. Pride is the shadow side of all walks of life. However, it is
more surprising when one experiences it in academic circles. I guess it
is the contrast between intellectual intelligence and the lack of
self-insight that makes it so embarrassing. I am sure many of you
reading this will have encountered such personalities. I must say, even
though it might not be a popular statement that I find the bead world to
take a high position when it
comes to academic pride.
Ancient beads are covered in un-knowing. They are small and can easily
travel thousand of kilometers away from their place of origin. Hence
they often lose their context. Ancient beads hardly carry as much
scientific validate-able information with them as other objects of art
like a painting. They are more silent than most other objects of art. When you look at the scientific bead books with their timetables, it is quite easy to observe that much of the age definitions in these books are qualified guesswork - not so far from what I have stated is my approach, just
hopefully not with the little difference that I am the only one aware of this fact.
Peter Francis is of course right, but due to the difficulties of
ascertaining the exact age and production place of ancient beads, the
beads also easily become projection fields for our own self and in worst
cases our pride.
Our own unknown observer projects itself into the dark bead holes, and the scientific all knowing attitude becomes, instead of revealing the secret of the beads, a portrait of the
shallow ego of the observer himself.
No scientist can jump his own subjective shadow in the process of scientific studies. If he himself is not meta-aware about this fact, then the study of beads will point only one finger at the bead and three fingers at his, for himself not revealed ego.
So the study of ancient beads is really a
trans-historic two-way study of human nature.
How to wear & handle ancient beads
in a meditative set and setting
Here I don't intend to tell you how you should deal with
your ancient beads. That is entirely up to you. However, I would like to present a few ways of
understanding the relations between bead and man in a context of
meditation. This might inspire you
in your personal relation with your ancient beads.
INTROVERTED MEDITATIVE BEAD WEARING
In more than 10.000 years dogs and humans have been best friends,
they have even shared
a few genes. One could say the same has happened in the relation
between man and his oldest art creation, beads. Beads became 'humanized'
by the slow polishing and chemical reactions between the surface of the
stone bead and
generations of skin and human sweat. At the same time, our identity got formed
by the storytelling power of stones - of course not any Tom, Dick, and
redneck Harry-stone, but stones already shaped in the light of our
consciousness. Hence beads are signifiers and cultivators of pure
This ancient symbiotic feedback arose in the close contact between man
and bead. The introvert bead wearer does not show her beads in public.
She carries them in privacy and intimacy under the clothes in direct
contact with the
Ancient beads in constant self-remembrance
Meditation can in this set and setting be understood as a
skin-sense based form of symbol-communication.
Always to wear beads under the clothes in intimate contact with the skin can act
as a powerful reminder in the cultivation of inward flow of attention.
One could call it a slow, but prolonged state of meditation. In every
situation, eating, walking, talking - every time you feel your bead(s) on your body, you remember your
task: to direct your flow of awareness inwards instead of outwards.
Gurdjieff called this process of meditation constant self-remembrance. The
wearing of your by you personalized ancient beads can be a powerful tool
in this life long exploration and cultivation of inner realities and the
consciousness that 'awares' them.
Active Bead-staring Meditation
Ancient beads can also be used as valuable tools in a more concentrated
and direct form of meditation. Here you hold your favorite or by you for
the occasion chosen bead in your hand while you stare at it. Hence you
will get sense information from your hands, while simultaneously getting
information through your sight. In this meditation, I suggest that you
stare at the bead in a focused and defocused way at the same time. This
requires a little practice, especially because Meditation should be
effortless or what one could term as an effortless effort. If you feel strained by your practice, I suggest you just
simply stare at the
bead with a defocused look. You can defocus your look by relaxing it in
such a way that you 'see without seeing'. At the same time, you in
constant remembrance feel the
sensation of holding the bead in your hands as an abstract
More on Bead Meditation
When you sit in meditation check your position. Symmetry is important.
Brain-coherence is closely linked with symmetrical body-positions. For
maximum energy flow between brain and body, the spine and head should be
in a straight position.
The brain has reserved a lot of conscious processing power for our
hands. Therefore, especially as a beginner, it is advisable to place the bead(s) in your hands if you want to explore bead-meditation.
That 'something' is 'energy'
When you sense your bead(s) in your hands, they will start tingling
or feeling hot or heavy.
It is difficult for our conditioned consciousness to aware
something for which we have no words. A small trick can bypass this
language based bottleneck. By using a labeling name with almost
without any cognitive meaning, we suddenly can see and feel sensations in the inner body
that so far have lived their life without our knowing.
That word is energy.
Whatever sensation we experience in awareness and consciousness: from
now on we label them with the abstract term energy. Whatever
sense based information you get from your hands: don't try to analyze them,
don't categorize them beyond the abstract word, energy. Just 'know' them as
a simple childlike non-intellectual 'aha'-awareness.
The energy phenomenon that you most likely are about to experience in this setting is
created in a feedback of
sense-amplification in awareness cultivated by Meditation. You feel the
energy in your bead-hands. That makes you more aware. When you are more
aware more energy will be sensed and so on and so forth.
Of course, you can also do this Meditation without beads. However
involving an ancient bead will activate our symbol-thinking brain and
make it participate in the brain-orchestral symphony of synchronicity in
Furthermore, it is much more easy to feel the energies in the hands when
we have something we conceive as valuable and important 'in' them. Hands
were made for that.
Energy as 'one'
In this meditation loop, there will come a moment where you cannot tell
where the inner sensation
of your hands
stop and the bead(s) begins. They melt into each other as bead-hands.
This experience of energy as 'one' is directly proportional to the
quality and intensity of your awareness and consciousness. After some
time you can allow this
energy-feeling to transfer itself to the rest of the body.
Maybe the energy flows into your body - maybe not. Just stay with what
happens with a minimum of interference in the form of intention.
Allow this energy phenomenon in relaxation to happen on its own accord - effortless &
After doing a few sessions with the hands, you can also try to lie down
and place the bead(s) on the areas on your body that you want to
Feelings are energy
Anyone who dares to take a conscious peep into the laboratory that is
his own body will discover the mere fact that the body is full of
different sensations. Generally we label these feeling sensations as
love, anger, joy, hate, worry and so on. Love, hate, compassion or
anxiety are, on this level just chemical weather reports from our inner
geographical landscapes. Sometimes we also talk about butterflies in the
stomach or gut feelings and in this use of language we are quite close
to the next level of observation that allows us to discover that all
these feelings can be experienced on a more abstract level as
"energies". Fear can, in a state of clear awareness, be seen or felt
a chemical energy storm with its center somewhere between the throat and
the navel. This energy - whatever form it takes - is the very fuel that
makes us able to go on the path of life. To enter this secret world, you
have to travel into the inner world of energies and sensations in the
cellular landscapes of your own body. Now, what is the practical benefit
for us as human beings to become familiar with the inner body? As
mentioned before: all body-energies whatever form they take, are fuel
for our body-engine to go on running. We cannot afford to forego any of
these energy forms away since they represent a valuable source of fuel.
From raw oil to petrol
Let us use an oil refinery as a metaphor. We pump
raw oil out of the ground. No car engine will be able to go on this
fuel. The raw oil needs to be refined into petrol or gas. The same is
the case with our inner raw oily energies. So-called lower feelings or
impure feelings should not be suppressed. They should instead be refined
so that it can fuel our human body machine. Anger or so-called primitive
desire, contains, like all basic instinctive feelings, a tremendous
amount of energy. Now the million dollar question is: How to refine and
transform these raw oily energies?
Pure intimate and innocent awareness is the best refinery. Here
intellectual understanding will not do alone. The best vehicle for this
travel is pure and intimate awareness. This awareness is a pure
witness. It just watches the "gut-storms" of the abdominal life. But it
is at the same time also an innocent, intimate and compassionate
watcher! This simple, childlike and meditative attitude is ignoring
everything in full and loving awareness. It does not that unfolds itself
by itself. Now the million dollar question is: How to refine and
transform these raw oily energies? This process can be strongly enhanced
The largest & most important sense organ – the skin
Of all the five
senses the sense of feeling is the most fundamental in the process of
meditation. (At least this has been my personal experience.)
Feel 2 heal
The famous psychologist C. G. Jung wrote:
The foundation of
all mental illness is the avoidance of legitimate suffering.
It is often not possible to return to a genuine feeling of Inner Calm,
Contentment and Well-being without some therapeutic and cathartic work.
During a Bead-Meditation session, you might feel all
kinds of strange sensations in your inner body. Some of them may even be
painful. Don't worry! This is the best thing that can happen. The secret
is that the body heals itself through these energies - especially the
unpleasant feelings! Don't analyze what is going on - do not call it anything
apart from the abstract and from 'meaning' almost empty word 'energy'.
Feel these various energies in a neutral state of
mind, not judging or labeling them. Let your awareness dwell in the
innocent sensation of these feelings. Feel to heal... Here we can
use the slogan body builders have coined in a new
context. They say No pain, no gain. This is also true for the
indwelling natural healing processes of the body. In our modern life we
have come so accustomed to avoiding pain that pain has become a strong
demonic force chasing us exponential to the amount of escape routes we
have made through various kinds of over stimulation like smoking, excess eating,
smart-phoning, partying, drinking and so on.
If you can face it, 'God' can fix
If you can feel it, God can heal it.
Amplification of feeling-sensations through awareness
Right now… Just feel the many different sensations from your skin: feel
your toes, feet’s, legs, hands … feel also how the clothes have contact
with your skin. Maybe you can even feel the sensation of your hair on the
head and the feeling of your face in contact with the surrounding air.
When you direct your innocent awareness to these simple facts of
sensation, you will feel an immediate amplification of these sensations.
This spontaneous amplification is tremendously important.
A short preliminary definition of the difference between awareness and
At the same time we note that we can direct our awareness to different
locations - contrary to what is here defined as 'consciousness'. In this
context, our definition of consciousness is that it is inherently abstract and non-locatable in time and space.
Consciousness is also not dependant upon sensations. Awareness is
basically rooted in feeling sensations and is direct-able.
Let the bead tell your unknown stories
Let me inspire your bead meditation with a few words now:
Your ancient bead and you have become one. You have become ancient and
the story of the bead and your story have become one.
Now feel - I am deliberately avoiding the word "look" - deeper
into this phenomenon - right at this moment it is taking place in your
hands. You will now be able to 'innerstand' several small things so
close to you that your eyes have not been able to see them.
Nevertheless, these insignificant things have been with you your whole life! And behind the curtain
of the obvious, you have been their servant!
THE 'EXTROVERSION' OF BEADS
It is only natural that we also like to show our beads in public now
and then. No harm in that.
in the 'extrovertation' of beads they loose their power as
enhancers of inner life, while at the same time they gain importance as
signifiers of social status. In this process, they tend to transform from talismen to jewelry.
This huge magnificent King Bead
was most probably created for the purpose of being a royal insignia
displaying social power:
Extroverted beads as social signifiers
By showing your ancient beads in public by wearing them outside your
clothes, you can tell your story to everyone around
you. My friend
Arthur from Hong Kong finds the display of Rolex watches
embarrassing, since every Tom, Dick and red-neck Harry has one nowadays.
To stand out you need something special, maybe even designed and/or
created by you. You develop your own identity, not with luxury brands
and personalized ring tones on your mobile, but something that is
impossible for others to replicate. An ancient bead is full of scars. No
other bead has quite the same scars and hence they become the
personalized signature that signifies a brand does not own your mind.
have become your own storyteller. You are free to go in and out of the
matrix as you like.
Meditation and Malas
Group Meditations are both a curse and a blessing. They are often
stronger than individual meditations, but they tend to make you a sheep
instead of a lion. This happens in the process of conscious and
unconscious social imitation, where you sacrifice the parts of your
spiritual individuality that stand in the way for you to sync up with the
cruder but also more powerful rhythm of the group. However for some
periods in one's life participation in group meditation can be
beneficial. Here the wearing of
has been used as signifiers of social coherence. By wearing a certain
mala you belong to a certain group with a certain frequency of
resonance. The mala is symbolizing a group of beads as you have become
an individual strung up with other individuals. You are strong as
'we', but you cannot any longer walk the path of a lion.
Malas of the brotherhood of consciousness
However, a mala worn in intimacy under the clothes can also act as a
powerful reminder, a tool of self-remembrance of the fact that there
always exists a secret
sister- and brotherhood of cultivators of consciousness.
When you sit alone, you are not alone. You are al-one.
However, first of all, this al-one-ness connects you with other beings
which cultivate Prometheus fire of Consciousness. In this string of 108,
we are beads of consciousness tied together in the mathematical
mysticism of the Fibonacci sequence.
In fact, this sequence in its progression encompasses all living beings.
Let this be a reminder of the fact that we are not special by being
18 * 8 mm
This bead is very attractive in the sense that it is has an
etched eye in the
already naturally occurring eye. The bead hole is made with the
´new´ drilling technique,
so it is not an Indus bead. My guess is that it was made around
I prefer beads with scars and marks of wear and tear.
Such beads have the wrinkles of old people's faces. They are signatures left by lives lived as time goes by
in a micro-level perspective.
A bead with
the scars of time has often lived more than a thousand
years. It lived in skin distance together with
generations of humans, themselves strung as beads in a
bead is therefore not a natural bead in the sense that
it cannot mirror the imperfection of the micro signatures
fire and countless generations of
A perfect looking bead can, of course, be beautiful. On
the other hand a scarred bead can be sublime.
In Japan, they would call
sabi bead. Sublime
beauty is never found in perfection. Perfect things are
dead. Life is in this sense almost a perfectly imperfect
We desperately try to avoid death and pain, and in this
fearful flight, we adore youth and the deception of
the perfect. I at any time prefer the deep diving
meditation that brings me down in my own subconscious
we arrive at this place with a perfect bead as our
meditation object? We are, thank god, not
perfect. Therefore we need 'amulettic' objects of
concentration that are perfectly imperfect.
The modern human and the Sacred Scar
Of course, not all scarred beads are sublime. That is
however entirely up to your decision if they are or not.
We are all collectively scarred in fabtastic individual
ways. Our scars are both sacred and individual. If the
scarred bead mirrors your scars, then it will be a
sublime tool, able to open the doors to your own
darkness and make it conscious. In this way your heart
bestows the gift of the sublime to an object of its own
In ancient Buddhist texts, we will not find one
word about an individual with a traumatized childhood. The concept of individual human psychological pain
and the narratives in which this is expressed is
In my view, it is because the notion of human
individuality never really was developed in the East.
Identity was in the eastern understanding primarily a
collective defined construct. It was the Greeks who
'invented' the western
concept of the out-standing individual human feeling
entity. They invented themselves as individuals in their
all-encompassing philosophic search for meaning. Their
open and curious passion for questioning and classifying
lead them away from their Gods and into the realm of
reasoning and science. Most probably this was a
consequence of democracy which essentially placed the
elite citizens in horizontal relationships, where not the
strongest god, but the strongest argument would win the
way to influence. When humans met in a horizontal
exchange of arguments, individuality became visible in
the cacophony of different viewpoints: "I" have a
different opinion as "you" ... I am not you. Hence democracy, reasoning, and individuality
were created in a polyphonic play of interdependency.
For the Greek citizens, individuality and logic reasoning was a path into the
secular and more emotionally insecure outlook on life
without the protection of their Gods ... Gods that
anyhow were much more unreliable than the later
The impact of Alexander the Great
The notion of individuality as divine was above all
constructed by the more authoritarian Macedonian Alexander the Great.
Alexander re-feudalized the newly established feeling of being an
"I". With him, Divine Individuality became the benchmark of leaders, in the sense that a King's personal life
story could transmit divinity. Alexander was in this
sense both a super divinity and a human that loved his
horse, Bukephalos, and his boyfriend lover,
Hephaistion. This concept was strange to people in
Greece/Macedonia. However the last country Alexander came to in
his wild eastern conquest, India, it was an entirely
alien alien way of thinking. It does not require a lot of reading in
the more or less contemporary Indian
Upanishads to observe the total polarity between the
Indian and the Macedonian spiritual software.
The hybrid empire of Seleucus Nicator
An almost unknown, but important chapter of western civilization was written in
East Afghanistan more than 2000 years ago. It simply passed under the radar of
academic attention due to a lot of different reasons
from coincidence to political. I am referring to the
Empire and its succession by the
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and later by a lot of smaller
Kingdoms even extending into North West India.
After Alexander's death, one of his generals,
Seleucus Nicator, came to rule a vast Empire
stretching from Hellenized Turkey to the doorsteps of
Chandragupta Mauryas India. Two entire polar super
cultures, the Indian and the Greek met in eastern
Afghanistan. As a result, typical for both cultures and
chemicals of opposite nature, great new creative
explosions were bound to happen. That new revolutionary
socio-cultural hybrids could be born as a result of this
meeting was to a significant extent possible
due to the open ever investigative curiosity the
Macedonians had inherited from the Greek.
At that time East Afghanistan was very fertile. It was
full of rivers and green meadows. Climate changes
beginning a few hundred years before the Muslem
invasions transformed the country into the barren
regions we see there today. However, in the day of the
Seleucid Greek-Macedonian rulers, it was one of the
richest areas in the world. A combination of silk route
wealth, mineral mining and fertile land was the
foundation upon which a hybrid melting pot
of social construction could take place that would bring human
civilization to a peak. This openness towards foreign
cultures was a deliberate policy of Alexander. However,
the only General that did not divorce from the foreign
princess that Alexander had forced his general
to marry was Seleucus Nicator. He was the only post-Alexander King to continue the policy of cultural
openness and exchange. Hence the Seleucid Empire, especially towards
the east became the ideal place for ideas
of east and west to meet. They met on a platform of free Greek
dialogue and fructified into new forms of
life. Since the days of Alexander the area had been
flooded with Greek philosophers, artisans and
people in general with entirely different outlooks on
life than the area they were now were living in. This
influx of popuation, especially from Macedonia continued
for several hundred years. Population rise had stained
resources in both Greece and Macedonia. The new settlers did not
colonize their new lands by spreading over vast
territories. Instead they in accordance with the traditional Greek
business oriented culture created replica cities, not
entirely in the old fashioned Greek style, but also
fashioned as political and military powerhouses, first
named, from Kandahar in Afghanistan to Alexandria in
Egypt after Alexander, later named after Seleucus or his
Wife Apama. The Greek way
of life was the
The city was the state and the state was the city and
especially Seleucos Nicator was using the foundation of
new cities as a mean to get political control over his
vast Empire. These new cities became concentrated copy
forms of Greek-Macedonian customs and culture and they
strung themselves together in communication and
business the whole way from the Hindu Kush to Syria and
Greece via the many caravan routes. Here, far far away
from their motherlands, the new settlers made copies of Greek cities with Greek
houses and temples, but also
temples where caravan people with other religions from
far away regions openly could worship their own gods. We
must imagine a multicultural polis-life where Greek was
the administrative language, but where the surrounding
farmland area did not know much about Zeus.
Greek stucco of a
in individualized bliss
Greco-Bactria 100 B.C.
Buddha in transpersonal bliss
Japan 1100 A.D.
The exceptional piece of stucco art you can see above to the left was created in such an
environment. It depicts an Indian Buddhist monk with an
Archaic Greek smile entirely different from the
transpersonal smile you see on the face of the Buddha to
the right. This stucco head was created in
around 2000 years ago. With a little art historical
knowledge, one can here observe a unique expression of
human individuality, which rivals the best
pieces from the 1500 years later Italian Renaissance
The Greco-Bactrians never really got friends with the
The Brahmans are always too proud to
borrow their science from the Greeks, Arabs
or any nation of the Mlechchas as they call those who
are ignorant of the Vedas.
Sir William Jones
However, The Greeks and the Indian
Buddhist seemed to go well together. This friendship
began with Seleucus Nicators peace alliance and later
friendship with Chandragupta Maurya. Mauryan Jain and
later Buddhist India was
an open urban trading culture like the Greek, very
unlike the feudal and exclusive Hindu societies.
Many of the Greeks in the later Seleucid
Empire got converted to Buddhism
by Mauryan Ashoka the Great,
The stucco head above left is a child born out of this
extraordinary meeting. The post-democratic area in Greece
was not surprising followed by a decline in the quality
of their art. In Bactria, the environment for creativity
and art at the same time seemed to peak. Both the
Bactrian coin making and the making of stucco art
surpassed in quality and creativity their
Greek/Macedonian motherland and reached a level in art
making that according to my view rivals that of the
Renaissance. My guess is that the Mauryan Buddhism
softened the otherwise war-oriented and
Alexander-authoritarian Indo-Greeks, at least so that
the Greek and Indian elites had sufficient free and open
space to inter-create art and ideas. Below you will see
a Bactrian stucco head of an Indian King, most probably
King Ashoka himself.
You might now ask...
What has all this to do with scarred ancient beads?
Please give me a few more lines to string all these different
worlds together. I must admit that the bead I am putting
on the string here is almost too heavy, but I guess many
lovers of ancient beads also are lovers of history and
psychology, so I dare to use this site as a forum for lofty visions.
To create a concept and a society of individuals
requires an extraordinary amount of economic energy.
Today we in the West all more or less have the
subjective feeling of being out-standing. Only when a
society reaches a point of no return in affluent
production capacity, it can afford to construct the
notion of "I" in each individual. Before only
and Kings had been bestowed with the power of "I". In
the Greek Macedonian culture, the birth of 'I' of course
did not happen for all. It was still a slave and servant
culture and even more so in the eastern colonies, but
maybe 20% of the elite population had the necessary
material and psychological surplus combined with
horizontal lines of communication for
individualization to take place.
However, nothing new comes without a price. Let me in
this context quote,
It is the business of the future to be
The major advances in civilization are processes that
all but wreck the societies in which they occur.
The creation of the
Individual in societies with an accelerating surplus was
a major advance that at the same time broke up our sense
of unity and belonging. To be an individual is great but
at the same time to live
in the pain of being separated from other individuals.
Let me here quote
contain one reflection:
one, that is the denial of its being the other;
the highest of the angels denies he is the lowest.
God is the denial of denials
You don't need to be religious or do any
meditation practice to follow this line of logic. To
understand Eckhart's God as a metaphor for the always
unknown sum total of existence, the whole, is
The denial is the root cause of the psychological
pain of the modern individual. To be out-standing is to
be alienated. We all in a way get traumatized in the
process of being "I". To be bestowed with the power of I
is at the same time a curse. To bring this
dialectic challenge to a new and higher level of harmony,
we have to heal the scars created by separation. Let us
for a moment return to silent contemplation by watching
the face of this Bactrian construction of a Buddhist monk:
An individual representation of the Universal
I dare to say that this monk smiles
because he has solved the riddle of being introverted alone,
all.one and extroverted at the same time. He carries
this knowledge as a secret in his sensual
asymmetric, yet Greek
archaic smile. His serene blissful but fragile face is the
face of an individual in spite of the oceanic transhuman
feelings it transmits. He is, at least in my field of
perceptive projections, full of human essence, an
essence ignited as the spark of celestial light coming
from beyond his human nature, or maybe more correct, a
transcendent glow of presence in a highly humanized form.
The monk is both universal in the eastern sense and
individual in a western way. He
and therefore the culture that created him seems to have
solved the riddle of being a separate I, yet
still in harmony and unity with the whole. I dare to
conclude so radically on the foundation of this single
stucco head out of one simple reason: Either a culture
can make such a socio-spiritual construction or they can
not. You have to make a historical scroll more than 1500
years to the Renaissance to see a Mona Lisa smile like
this monk, and yet her smile is far from being oceanic.
Here in my view, a unique Greek understanding of Buddhism
constructed a counterweight to the Shonyo, the
emptiness of the East, striking a delicate balance, a fragile synthesis between
being an Individual and being a part of Gods denial of
denials. I dare to say that this monk's face holds the key
to this understanding - of course only for exalted souls
that already are the truth they observe in front of
them. I am deeply reminded by C.G. Jung's
Answer to Job, where he states that God wants to
be a Human being more than vice versa. I am also
reminded of the statement that leads to the judgment of
Meister Eckhart by the Inquisition. This statement was:
What is true about Jesus is true about every good
Can we take up the heritage from the Greco-Bactrians?
Now the question is. How to reach or regain that
between the individual drop and the transpersonal ocean, where the little drop of
soul captured in the "I" is not merging with the ocean,
because it realizes that the ocean already is within
As far as I can see with 40 years as a meditation
practitioner, we in the west are still fumbling in the
darks as compared to the Indo-Greek monk above. In our
blind copying of eastern meditation philosophy, we are in
danger of bypassing our human nature. Instead of
cultivating a transpersonal consciousness within the
frames of individuality and humanness we are in danger
of getting de-personalized in our spiritual quest.
Modern man cannot reach this fragile point of synthesis
between I and All by blindly
following and copying the Eastern Buddhist traditions.
Like we in the west don't have a clue about how to
cultivate pure consciousness, the Eastern traditions
don't have a clue about what it means to be an individual.
Of course there in the east is the notion of Ego, but in my perspective,
this ego is just a separation of unity as a consequence of
mere biological survival. To be individualized as a
human I is so much more profound and delicate.
This is the basic challenge of Buddhist traditions
practiced in the west. They are in danger of bypassing
the existential pain of being an individual
by de-personalisation. If we blindly use the eastern
spiritual mind software we are at risk of reducing the
notion of human individuality to the concept of ego. This is too
primitive and reductionistic. It simply does not function
every time you have a problem with your girlfriend or
your loved ones to say to yourself: The root cause
of my pain is desire. Let me seek refuge in
The tide is turning. At the time of the Buddha, it was a
good survival strategy to avoid suffering by ignoring
the human side of ourselves and to strive for impersonal
existence as a Nirvanic Zero.
The difference between survival ego and human
Most probably the Evolution of Individuality at the time
of the Buddha yet was so insignificant, that there
hardly was any distinction possible between ego and
humanness and this so even more in the east.
However, we are now finally able to take up the
outstanding and overlooked heritage from the Buddhist
Bactrian Greeks. They were able to take advantage of
their unique geographical position and make a synthesis
of the best from the east and the west. The
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom had as an extreme eastern
frontier of western mindset the exact and only
geographic location for this hybrid to happen. Today we
are luckier. Any kind of
socio-religious synthesis is now possible
everywhere due to cheap airfare and the sharing of
information on the location-less location called the
internet, which makes it possible for mindsets once
divided by distance to meet and fructify into new
spiritual software newer seen before.
Why the Greco-Bactrians?
Why taking in something so odd as the Greco-Bactrian culture and expressions of art in this
discourse? It seems the Greco-Bactrians were able to facilitate a
construction making it possible for a human to be a
sacred individual representation of the Universal truth.
To take up and further 'evolutionize' this human
spiritual construct we have to follow an entirely new
path, inspired by the Buddha's teachings, but as well
inspired by the most outstanding personalities from our
Now I would like to return to C.G. Jung:
Carl Gustav Jung was a
visionary. He advocates as you can observe in the above
quotation, to embrace pain instead of running away from
it in order to
Individuate. It is very simple. If you
want to be an individual you cannot avoid pain.
If we as modern individualists wants to smile the smile
of the Indo-Greek monk above, to see the ocean within
our tiny droplet-soul, we have to face our scars first of all.
However, meditation or not. The point is that in order
to reach the higher synthesis level of being both
alone, all.one and yet an I in
dialogue with a you, there are no short cuts
leaving our human existence behind. I have seen too many
individuals bypassing their personal life in an attempt
to 'Buddhafy' their existence. One way or the other
- we have to deal with what Jung calls legitimate
The foundation of all mental illness is
the unwillingness to experience legitimate suffering.
To face pain as a cure for pain
I can from a personal life long Meditative experience
state that it is possible to realize that the tiny
starlight of human existence contains the holographic
information of the cosmos. This Meditation was never
in a rush to find the shortest route to Nirvana. Instead,
it focused on facing the pain inside the body, not
spinning it into a narrative of thoughts but 'pixellating' it into pure psychic
energy beyond notions of good or bad and pain and
pleasure. You have to face your pain as a cure for pain.
However, you might not see much pain in the stucco
head of the blissful monk. Let me, therefore, show you
another stucco head from the same place, period and culture.
Note the elongated earlobes indicating that the peculiar expression of suffering in this
imperfect asymmetric face is noble and
sanctifying. This face is sublime because of
its lack of beauty.
THROUGH THE BEAD HOLE ONCE MORE
In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret
Finally we are ready to tie the string. I prefer,
since this is a site about beads, to the enter perspective
of the bead hole
In order to face your pain as a cure for pain, it can be
helpful to set ritual time aside for doing that. Here a
scarred bead is a perfect mirror to look into or simply
just to hold in the hand.
The scarred bead is a Broken Beauty like you
The scarred bead is a broken beauty like you. How can
something perfect mirror your sacred scars?
What must not be broken is the mirror in which you
recognize your Self. This mirror is your consciousness,
you self-awareness and the medium for your meta-cognition. It is the mirror
that mirrors your mirror. It constitutes the
GPS in which you can observe and navigate your body from
a higher perspective.
Quasimodo and the sublime
It is in the acceptance and even love for the eternal,
almost mathematical set inner and outer occurrence of
Quasimodo as an archetypical consequence of being
alive we have the possibility to recognize ourselves as
sublime. Esmeralda is beautiful. Quasimodo is sublime. Without Quasimodo life would be less dynamic
and less surprising and there would be no existential possibility of
A sublime hunchback bead
Our scars are however not sacred before we chose to look
at them that way. To sanctify your scars so
that the light of your own essence can shine out through
their cracks you need, in a post modern frame of mind
deliberately to choose your own placebo.
Take one to know one
Just as a play you can go through all the scarred beads displayed on Ancientbead.com and find
exactly the scarred bead that mirrors your own scars.
Maybe you already have an ancient bead. By
recognizing the beauty in that particular bead you
sanctify your wounds in an act of self love. By
accepting and choosing to see the sublime perfection in
the scarred bead you also acknowledge what makes you
out-standing, what makes you individual: It is the
signature of your scars that makes you stand
apart as a sublime being.
EPILOGUE - How to avoid
fake beads (and fake people)
Do you want to be sure that you do not have a fake
Chose a scarred imperfect bead that the Chinese would
not like even to touch.
looking 'ancient' beads are more easy to copy than a
bead full of personality. It is far more difficult to
fake a bead like the ones displayed above. The wrinkles
are too many and too personal for the faker to replicate
convincing way. In this way the scars also act like
ancient signatures guaranteeing that what you hold in
your hand is real. Fake beads don't have scars. They are
replicate and most collectors even in the west don't
like them. We identify with youth and immaturity.
The fakes are made to satisfy the immature far
eastern demand for perfect ancient beads.
Seleukos Nikator, Constructing a Hellenistic Kingdom
- John D. Grainger
The Greek Kingdoms of Central Asia - P. Bernard
Mes Aynak - An Ancient City at the meeting point of
civilizations - Tibor Paluch
Buddhism in North-western India and Eastern Afghanistan,
Sixth to Ninth Century AD - Giovanni Veradi
Hellenism in ancient India - Bannerjee, Gauranga
The Art and Architecture of
India - 1996. B.
The Buddha Statue - Leonhard Adam - 1925
Buddha in Indien - Kunsthistorisches Museum in
Wien - 1995
Alexander the Great - Robin Lane Fox
A History of Christianity - Diarmaid Mc Culloch
The Story of Civilization (II til V) - Will
Works of C. G. Jung
SOME THOUGHTS ON THE POWER OF DZI
In this little essay I will take the
opposite stand and praise the perfect bead. I
deliberately do this to sabotage my own tendency to make
a religion out of a thought produced insight. yes, we
use narratives, but we are so much greater than them. So
it is better ultimately to play with narrative in a meta
narrative that does not believe in narratives.
Click on picture for larger image
New or not?
Take a look on the wonderful Burmese Beads displayed above. If one looks at the line of light the aged patina produces across these beads, it has exactly the right softness of shine and is uniform across all the beads. This soft patina is impossible to reproduce in modern faking. A new bead has after polishing a hard shine. When fakers try to hide this hard shine, they often tend to make the surface of the bead look 'dusty'.
Faked beads often come in a lot and they all look alike. Here all the beads are different in shape, making, and patterns.
If one observes the beads under a magnifying glass, all the small marks where the beads were sanded with extremely fine emery paper or something similar are still visible. Kevin Ball, a friend of mine and a bead expert is of the opinion that these beads are new. He states:
If they had been buried for thousands of years, I don't think the marks would be as clearly defined if visible at all, as natural acids present in the soil slowly etch the beads over millennia, and marks that fine would long have disappeared.
I went back to the bead people in Myanmar with this valuable information from Kevin. The bead diggers then told me that these beads were found in PH-neutral, sandy ground, and that is the reason for their seemingly new surface.
Burial beads in neutral chemical environment
The chemical composition of the earth also changes the air
surrounding the beads. If the air and earth is neutral it can be
very difficult to distinguish between burial beads and new beads. The bead sellers offered me to take the beads back, but summing up all the evidence I so far had got, I chose to keep the beads. On my next trip, I encountered a lot of fake beads made by contemporary Burmese bead makers, and they were all of altogether a lower quality seen from the level of craftsmanship.
As passionate bead collectors, we will often come across beads where there is doubt concerning their age. 90% of the ancient beads we encounter, we can see within a split second if the beads are ancient or not. In the case of the remaining 10%, there will always be a doubt.
We have to live with that doubt. In the case of the beads displayed above I chose to believe in the beads, but I can not be sure.
Furthermore fake new beads tend to be mass produced in larger
quantity and over flood the hungry bead market from all corners.
This has not been the case here. I have not come across beads like
the unique beauties anywhere else. If you dear reader have done so,
please give me a note.
The price matters
Additional we always have to consider the cost price of the beads. If the price is low, it is a good indication of the absence of fraud. No one would bother to work hard to produce an extraordinary beautiful fake ancient bead and then sell it for
Alone seen from the level of artistic skill, it would be
quite costly to produce the wonderful beads displayed
above today. To select out of tons of raw material the
right piece of agate and then call out the particular artistic and/or divine patterns would be a challenging job for a contemporary bead maker.
Only a few people today master the art of 'invoking the divine patterns' out of
the stone chosen to become a bead.
Generally, fake beads are made in a lot where they all look mass produced and identical.
To make a high quality ancient fake bead is a rather costly affair.
The insane prices for DZI beads and to a lesser extent etched beads have
done the trade and collection of this type of beads vulnerable to high-tech copy production, especially from Taiwan.
The exquisite fakes are made only for these types of beads and primarily in the price range of 20.000 USD and above.
However, it is still impossible to make a perfect fake DZI-bead that can elude a real Tibetan DZI-dealer or a professional western collector. (Maybe one day the cheaters will succeed, and that will be the day when DZI-bead
owners will lose billions of dollars.) To produce a
contemporary bead with the right excavation patina is
even more challenging.
When the fake-makers produce DZI-beads,
they try to copy the patina of wear and tear made by
generations of use. They do not bother about making
'new' excavation beads. I dare here to say that it is
harder to recreate excavation patina than to simulate patina from wear and tear. Furthermore, potential new collectors and buyers with lesser experience will look at the beads displayed above and think that they are new. They will tend to prefer the old dusty and worn out look of the fake bead.
There will be more excavation beads in the future
My guess is that the global community of bead collectors
will encounter more and more of newly excavated beads in
the future. The number of passionate bead collectors is
increasing worldwide, and the number of beads that have been in permanent circulation and hence have marks and patina made from constant use is more or less constant. When the increasing demand for ancient beads drives up prices, it becomes more and more interesting for unauthorized diggers to excavate ancient sites to look for beads. Here they will find a lot of beads who were never used, but rather stored away as treasures or just kept in the home as animistic protections against evil eyes and bad spirits.
Whether this new kind of digging is either a good or a bad development, I leave to people who think that this world can be understood, captured and controlled with strong unison opinions.
Beads are the perfect dialogue partners for having philosophic thoughts. It is amazing to watch how the biggest and most self-blind egos often can hide in the smallest of bead holes. I could in this context easily mention some names in the global bead community. However, I will start with myself. When I look into a bead hole, I peep into my own nature.
To know that one does not know is essential in life and in Bead collecting too.
That is why I can say about myself that I can only truly SEE a new bead arrival in my collection after a time span of minimum 6 months. Before that time my evaluation is colored by the excitement of the hunt and even greed. I WANT to believe that this new trophy is a genuine ancient catch. After half a year it becomes evident that is was NOT an ancient treasure, but the patina of 'Maya'.
So, let’s return to the newly excavated 'new-ancient' beads we are going to encounter in the future from all kind of shady sources. Is it bad? Is it good?
There are many
examples where former colonial countries have been
collecting old or ancient artifacts outside their borders, especially in third world countries.
Was it bad or was it good?
Bad things can pave the way for good things to happen
Had we not in the nineteen century done this 'looting', many ancient artifacts would have been lost today.
When Denmark 'stole' the ancient saga scriptures from Iceland, they saved these scriptures from annihilation. Some of the sagas written on leather were at that time transformed into boots by the local population. They did not at all appreciate their own cultural heritage.
The Acropolis in Athens is deteriorating due to air pollution. Only the statues and frescos that were 'looted' from there are spared from this sad destiny.
In Afghanistan, even
at this moment, the Taliban is actively destroying the country’s abundant Grecco- Buddhist art heritage. If they come across a Buddha statue so far hidden in the sand, they will repeat the story from Bamiyan.
I recently went to the National Museum in Rangoon in Burma. All rooms in the museum were covered in darkness. There were no light bulbs to display the sad fact that there was nothing there worth looking at, at least not compared to the living pagodas of the country. At least they shine full of light, gold and devotion and have continuously done so since ancient times.
Private versus public collections
Around 90% of the world’s ancient art is on the hand of private collectors.
Only 10% of the world’s ancient artifacts are displayed in museums. Many of these museums, especially in third world countries, are not capable of taking proper care of these precious
objects. They are far better off in the hands of private collectors.
The possibility of having private collections of old and ancient art is also an important factor in the cultivation of the interest in global history. Collectors go to museums. They write books about their interest. They read history books. They make websites with a lot of information. In this way, they generate a field of historic awareness that resonates into the media and internet world too. They make ancient art valuable and history an interesting subject for even the lower middle class. Furthermore, due to the hype it makes when enormous sums of money are offered for ancient art, a ring of preservation and protection is created around it.
One could argue that all collecting of ancient art should be open and legal, so that scientists, archeologists, public and private institutions and museums could collaborate with private collectors in gathering maximum information about our global world heritage past. The archeologists tend to view their subject as a 'private-public' affair, not for the common man to participate in. However, these people cannot exist without a general public interest in ancient history and their work as such. If people collect antiques, they create awareness, also political. They influence governments to fund more money to museums and historical and archeological institutions.
In my case, I am only talking about old beads. Nobody seems to bother about these small insignificant stones...
Good things pave the road for bad things to come and vice versa. On these roads of silk and robbery, beads have always traveled, even if they had a stopover for a thousand years one meter below the molded surface of the obvious, politically correct and fixed opinions.
So here is 'my opinion', written on a fleeting globe as my desk: Beads were meant to travel... from generation to generation as visual ambassadors, as a relay handed over from generation to generation, reminding us of something we have in common since the days we lived in caves: When we look at an ancient crafted stone bead, we, here in the oldest human art form, can recognize beauty!
That is why I have made
My joy of collecting made me interested in ancient history, and my website make others interested too. I guess it worked the same way for Kevin Ball too. This is our way to walk the talk.
Actually, we don't own these beads. We are their custodians in the sense that they will outlive us by far. We will disappear, and they will travel on. Yes, beads are great travelers!
Let me here give a good tip to the western collector. At the same time, it can serve as a warning to the eastern collector: 'Board the train before it is too late once again!'
Collecting mainstream beads or beads of beauty
It is still possible to purchase ancient unetched beads of unheard esthetic beauty in Asia and the east for reasonable prices. The rising third world middle class collectors have yet not cultivated an eye that makes them able to recognize the refined artistic skills of their ancestors. The nouveau riche middle-class man of the
East will, with a little over generalization, go for the etched bead, the black bead and the big bead, no matter how it looks seen from an artistic point of view.
Furthermore, this new type of first-generation middle-class collector is parroting the trend of Tibetan Buddhist traditions, but without the deeper knowledge, these traditions incorporate.
Let me here make a related comment. Most bead collectors are as mentioned, primarily collecting etched beads. However, in my view, the making of etched beads marked a fall from the peak of artistic bead production.
As evidence for this 'opinion' or fleeting viewpoint, I refer to the late Indus beads on ancientbead.com
Most etched beads, thank god not all, are NOT as beautiful as the older ones without etching. The etching was substituting the original bead maker’s hunt for the right stone so he here with the right technique could bring forth the original, almost
Platonistic idea so far hidden in the stone. When etching became the main trend, the bead maker could take almost every 'Tom, Harry and Dick stone' and make the desired patterns with a little etching. They did not any longer have to search through literally tons of stone to find the right piece.
This etching trend of
not manifesting the inner stone beauty, but cultivating
it by superimposing 'divine meaning' on the stone only
managed to reach an acceptable artistic level in the Tibetan DZI- and the Burmese Pyu-beads.
Most of the ancient Indian made etched beads are not made with loving care.
Still, they are interesting seen from a historical point of view.
They point at a growing, most probably Buddhist, middle class and lower class demand for mass-produced stone beads with divine protective powers. Bead etching became mainstream hand in hand with King Asoka’s successful transformation of India into a Buddhist empire. In the late Indus and early classical Indian time, skillfully crafted beads without etching were still dominant as jewels for the few.
That is why I elsewhere on Ancientbead.com advocate for the hypothesis that the stone bead culture is linked particular to the Buddhist culture and its predecessor, the Indus culture. Stone beads are not an integral part of the Arian Hindu culture.
Because of the craze for etched beads I have chosen another strategy for the last ten years: Hunting the beauty no one seemed to see in their crave for main stream tokens of social convergence and accept.
The above-mentioned trend has polarized beads into two distinct groups. We have got a group of uniform and easily identifyable beads that have reached insanely high prices in opposition to all the huge variety of beads outside this small banded category. The Tibetans have had the honor of defining these two categories. What does not fit into the Tibetan sphere of interest has remained relatively cheap. Today you can get a beautiful non-etched ancient bead for the lower or same price as a low quality etched bead.
Beads as money - big money!
The reason for this division is also that beads have again become what they already were in ancient time: money... Big money! Some types of beads have increased their value by a hundredfold within the last ten years!!
In the modern trend of beads again becoming money, it is confusing with too many types of currency. Hence a huge variation of beads is left in the dark and only a small bandwidth of beads are defined and within some circles almost accepted as equal to hard cash currency.
The Tibetan culture is the only
continuously living bead culture
One of the
reasons for that the Tibetans got the honor of defining
what is a valuable stone bead or not, is that they are
the living custodians of the world’s only continuous living stone bead culture.
Another reason is that the same Tibetans got their country robbed away by the Chinese.
If the Chinese had read global history, they would maybe have noted a curious tendency repeating itself all over in all places in history. They may have been more cautious in their handling with Tibet and Tibetan culture. It is the old tale of the conquers getting conquered by the culture they conquer.
This happened for the victorious Normans in Sicily. It happened for the moguls, especially under the glorious reign of Akbar.
It happened for the Kushans, once called the Yuezhi people from China when they entered into what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan and defeated the Grecco-Buddhist kings who were the rulers at that time. And what happened to the Kushan people? They converted to Buddhism and became the greatest mass producers of Buddhist artifacts ever. The ancient art called 'Gandhara' is made by the Kushan's!
So when you conquer someone... take care that you might not be defeated your self! In world history, only the stiff English upper lip was too resistant to get under the sway of Indian gurus or any other foreign culture they occupied.
Now, what is happening with the old Tibetan Buddhist culture of compassion?
At the time being it has like a virus been laying dormant waiting for its chance to infect the stone bead hard Chinese bureaucrat hart with love and compassion. However, this hart is nowadays only in tune with greed. So compassion has taken the form of stone to attract this stone heart in the form of some small beads.
The power of DZI
Therefore this new kind of old DZI-money is particular in demand in China where corruption among the leaders of the
Communist party has become an increasingly risky task.
You cannot any longer present your local party leader with a gift in the form of a suitcase with one million dollars inside. This kind of bribe is far too obvious and hence dangerous. If you want green political light today for your Chinese project, you discretely hand over a little piece of stone. You give the party boss an ancient DZI-bead.
It is a truly beautiful example of the irony and humor of history: The ultimate spiritual and vibrational token of Tibetan Buddhism arrives as a virus in the very heart core of the rotten Chinese corruption apparatus. These so-called socialist and atheist
'corruptocrats' make an animistic dance of greed around the golden calf, a new dance, but as old and empty as the hole in a DZI-bead.
Again, lets us have a peep into this small bead hole. This time we can see the most fantastic mega-ego in the form of greed. DZI-beads have become D.ZI.RE-beads. Hence they absorb the evil spirits of the corruptocratic animal nature into their 'shoonyo' and thus pave the way for a new ancient China.
Here comes my second prediction in this essay. China will again rise to what it once was: A glorious and highly cultivated Buddhist civilization under the guidance of the spiritual masters of Tibet.
Yes... Dzi are secret Tibetan
'nano' weapons with a mission impossible: to transform greed and power into love and kindness.
Seen in this light nobody can deny the spiritual powers of the DZI.
Just ask Madonna who has recently followed the Chinese party line and have become an ardent collector and devotee of DZI. Maybe the small black DZI-holes can even swallow up the megalomaniac stars of Hollywood!
By the way .... Bead
money has modern advantages. This will be my second
advice to bead collectors, but only to the people living
in the matrix of Beverly Hills. Beads are, as beads
always have been, great travelers. They also like to
fly. As I have mentioned earlier, no one seems to bother about small insignificant stones ... also not governments...
I know persons who have traveled all over the world with an innocent chain of stone beads... so at least it must have looked in the eyes of the customs officers. However, the necklace was made of ancient DZI beads. In this way, you can easily have 10 million dollars hanging around your neck. Imagine that you transfer the same amount of money in your hand luggage through the airport security and no one stops you to ask questions.
You do not need to be a rich DZI-hunter to get beauty
Here at the end of this stream of words in consciousness I feel obliged to tie up all the loose ends in this essay about almost everything. Hence I go back the beginning where I was talking about excavation beads. Collecting and hunting for DZI
and etched beads is a sport only for the filthy rich. Seen from the angle of income, I am a solid representative of the world’s middle class. My third and last advice is: Middle-class collectors and lovers of beads. Widen your search to all kind of beads, glass beads, terracotta beads, odd beads and especially excavation beads... Look for any bead that has not (yet) become a part of the pyramid money game.