Created in the town of Kiffa located in Mauritanian Sahara Africa, these beads are a rare and beautiful example of the skilled artwork from the women who live there. Having being produced from over 100 years ago, these african trade beads used to be far more popular than they are today. They would be traded all over the continent in sackfuls but in the early 2000′s, they declined in popularity. Today, they are difficult to find and although the quality has somewhat dropped over the years, they are still sought after by many.
Kiffa beads are created by taking clear glass, and grinding it into smaller pieces on a concave stone. This is done until they are in a fine powder. After this, a small amount of diluted gum is added to the glass and a spherical core is shaped. Then a hole is pierced through the centre using a small wooden stick. After which, some more of the gum is added with a little coloured powder and mixed. This is applied to the sphere along with other colour for decoration. This is a continuous process in which, in the hands of a skilled craftswoman, does not result in any smudged colours or decoration.
The bead is left to dry for eight hours after which it is fired. This is done by placing it in a dish with sand and covering it with a metal bowel. This arrangement is then covered in charcoal and it’s taken outside and set alight, completely surrounding it with flames for two hours.
Because of their rarity, these beads can be expensive. Buying a set will often cost about $150. Older beads, which are even more difficult to find and of higher quality, can cost up to $400. The price depends on the decoration and how many beads in total there are in the set.
But while the price of the beads may be quite high, they are an excellent example of a tribes culture and a rare artistic skill that isn’t found anywhere else. Why do you like Kiffa beads? Leave a comment and share