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Texas ISD School Guide
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Short Stories for Teachers

Beads: History and Trivia Great for Mardi Gras Party Games
By:Gail Leino

Beads have a long and colorful history. Whether made from seeds, bones, teeth, glass, crystal or other materials, beads have been a great tool for expressing oneself. During a Mardi Gras parade is a fun example of the use of beads. Also, beads have been used to indicate social status, marital status, and even religious affiliations in civilizations that date back thousands of years. At an archeological site that has been associated with Neanderthal man, beads and pendants of animal teeth and bone have been found and carbon dated back to approximately 38,000 B.C. That is a really long time!

Archeologists have found evidence that beads have been used in burial offerings. In 2005 a team of Australian archeologists found three mummies near Cairo that were covered with nets made of intricate bead working. These mummies have been dated back to the 26th dynasty, which means the beads are from approximately 664 - 525 B.C. Historically, the best beads and materials seemed to have been saved for royalty and the richer and more prominent families. These beads would be used for pieces of jewelry and beaded into clothing as embellishments.

Early world history is full of stories discussing travelers and traders from Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asias utilizing beads as a form of money, or as an exchange for gold, ivory, palm oil, pelts, spices, etc.. Beads signify much about a person, and about the artist who strings them. Beads can offer a reflection of great beauty of those that wear them, they can capture attention based upon the depth of their color, the uniqueness of their shape and beads can bring about interest to those whom the they adorn. Selecting pieces that utilize unique qualities will help to ensure that in 40,000 years when the archeologists of the future are looking to study what we used for adornment, that there will be plenty of interest in just what statement your adornments make about you!

When planning a Mardi Gras theme party for a kids birthday or special event incorporate these bead facts into the party games. This create the full feel of the celebration.

Gail Leino

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