- Dzi bead
Dzi bead (pronounced Zee) is a
beadstone of mysterious origin worn with a necklaceand sometimes bracelet. Collectively in almost all Asian cultures, the bead is expected to provide positive spiritual benefit. They are generally prized as protective amulets and sometimes used in traditional Tibetan medicine. Beads subject to this will have small "dig marks" where a portion of the bead has been scraped or shaved away to be ground into the medicine. Beads that are broken are believed to have diluted benefit because they have taken the brunt of the force that would have otherwise impacted the wearer.
The meaning of the word "dZi" translates to "shine, brightness, clearness, splendor". In
Traditional Chinese, the bead is called "heaven's bead" or "heaven's pearl" (天珠).
Dzi stones are made from
agate, and may have decorated symbols composed of circles, ovals, square, waves (zig zags), stripes, lines, diamonds, circles, squares, waves, and stripes and various other natural archetypalsymbolic patterns. Colors will mainly range from browns to blacks with the pattern usually being in ivory white. Dzi beads can appear in different colours, shapes and sizes. The number of eyes on the stone usually signify different meanings. "Eyes" refers to the circular dot designs, and depending on their number and arrangement, represent different things. Sometimes the natural patterns (usually "layered" swirls) of the agate can be seen underneath or behind the decorated symbols and designs, and sometimes not. Some dzi beads sport what are referred to as "blood spots" which can be seen as red dots in the white areas, which are indicative of cinnabarcontent. This is highly desirable, but more rare. Another desirable effect is something called " Nāgaskin" or " dragonskin," which refers to the cracking patterns on the surface of the bead, which simulates scales. The word "waxy" is often used to describe dzi bead surface, which is the smoothing which occurs over a long period of time (presumably from wear), giving the bead a waxy appearance. Some dzi beads are simply polished agate and sport only the agate's natural patterning as decoration.
There are beads referred to as "chung dzi" or simply "chung beads" which are often highly polished agate designs, can be any variety of colors, may include hand carved designs, or they look very similar to a dzi bead but because of their depictions (for example, the shape of
Quan Yin) are not true dzi. Chung dzis include such designs as yin-yangsymbols, dragons, and other "newer" designs that were not around during the time true dzi beads were supposedly created. Chung dzi are believed to embody similar properties as dzi but should not be confused with true dzi beads (they often cost much less than true dzi).
Dzi stones may have made their first appearance between 2000 BC to 1000 BC, in ancient
Tibeta few thousand were brought back by Tibetan soldiers from Persia.Dzis were crafted using agate as the base stone and then fabricated with lines and circles using unique ancient methods and techniques by Persian craftsmen. scientists these days can manufacture dzi stones in bulks easily but they too wonder the techniques and methods used by ancient craftsmens which still remain ambiguous and oblivious to all skeptics. [http://beadbugle.com/html/etched_beads_and_dzi_beads.html beadbugle] . Fear of the “Evil eye” was taken very seriously by these people, so they created talismans with “eyes” on them as a “fight fire with fire” form of protection, as a matter of fact Lord Shiva who is revered as one of the Trinity in Hinduism possesses a "third eye".
While the origin surrounding Dzi beads is quite uncertain, it is socially accepted today that they are called "Tibetan beads". They are found primarily in
Tibet, but also in neighbouring Bhutan, Ladakhand Sikkim. Shepherds and farmers pick them up in the grasslands or while cultivating fields. Because dZi are found in the earth, Tibetans cannot conceive of them as man-made. One reason the beads may be found near the surface in places such as freshly tilled fields, for example, are believed to be because ancient monks were burned in funeral pyres (wearing the beads), and long after the remains were gone, the beads therefore remained, and were found at later dates. Since knowledge of the bead is derived from oral traditions, few beads have provoked more controversy concerning their source, method of manufacture and even precise definition. In Tibetan culture they are believed to attract protector deities [Pattison, Eliot.  (2004). Beautiful Ghost. St Martin Press. ISBN 0312277598] .
upply and demand
Due to the unknown origin and high demand of the beads, there has been unquestionable counterfeiting in
Asia. Some are replicas created for decorative purposes, and accepted by the general public. In Chinese culture, a necklace is believed to be genuine if it was obtained without monetary exchange, for example from a temple. The other cultural requirement is that one should not request or bribe for it.
Market value for ancient beads can easily reach into thousands of US Dollars - especially for beads with more "eyes". Unscrupulous dealers will often attempt to sell replicas or "new dZi" as authentic to unsuspecting buyers. Because of the high value placed on them by Tibetans, they would typically only part with an authentic dZi bead under extreme circumstances.
* [http://dzibeads.blogspot.com/ Information about the recognition of ancient dZi beads and modern replicas]
* [http://www.dzicrystal.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=39 The Legend of Tibetan Dzi Bead]
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