Collection: Archives - Islamic Trade Beads

For the past 25 years, we have been deeply immersed in the world of bead trading, specializing in historical and culturally significant pieces. The photos in this archive showcase a blend of beads that we've had the honor of selling, as well as some cherished pieces from our personal collection.

Fustat Islamic beads are ancient glass beads believed to have originated in Fustat, the precursor to modern-day Cairo, Egypt, between the 8th to the 11th centuries. These beads are not merely ornamental; they are poignant reminders of ancient trade routes and cultural exchanges, especially between North Africa and West Africa.

Their presence in Mali paints a vivid picture of the robust trade that once spanned the Sahara, seamlessly connecting Mediterranean societies with those in Sub-Saharan Africa. This was not just a trade of goods but a profound exchange of ideas, art, and cultural traditions.

Skillfully crafted by the accomplished artisans of Fustat during those historic centuries, these Islamic period glass beads, adorned with intricate designs and vibrant hues, became highly coveted in various regions, including Mali. As the years passed, these glass beads found their way into the very fabric of local cultures, taking on both decorative and symbolic significances.

The Fustat beads unearthed in Mali serve as invaluable windows for historians and archaeologists, offering insights into the ancient trade dynamics, the diffusion of Islamic culture, and the intricate ties binding ancient African civilizations.

Please note: You are welcome to use any of the photographs on this website for your personal or commercial projects, as long as you credit us as the original source and provide a link back to our website.