Book Description: This fascinating study is the first detailed description of the ancient and enduring trade in beads that spans more than two millennia and once stretched from the Middle East to East Asia and affected areas as far apart as West Africa and the American Pacific coast. Beads are universal and among the earliest art forms. Made of glass, semiprecious stone, or precious organic materials such as amber and coral, they were ubiquitous in the ancient world, serving as decorations, magical charms, mnemonic and counting devices, symbols of wealth and status. Much of the ancient bead trade was incorporated in Asian maritime commerce, and many of the beads involved have Asian origins. Peter Francis, Jr., a pioneer in bead studies, incorporates firsthand knowledge of beads and beadmaking in the field with years of solid, scholarly research, effectively eliminating much of the hearsay and speculation that so often characterize works on beads. In addition to the production, use, and provenance of beads, he examines the importance of the bead trade for the economies of the countries involved and provides insights into the lives of its many participants: artisans, mariners, and merchants. He covers the widely-dispersed Indo-Pacific beads (sometimes called Trade Wind beads or mulisalah), Chinese glass beads, Middle Eastern glass beads, Indian stone beads, heirloom beads in Southeast Asia and Micronesia, and other minor beads and bead industries involved in the trade. Well illustrated with maps, drawings, and black-and-white and color photographs, Asia's Maritime Bead Trade will be of great interest to historians and archaeologists trying to understand the dynamics of Asia's evolving cultures, and will prove invaluable to collectors, dealers, and students of beads.