Other Free Encyclopedias » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Barley to Bellows, George Wesley


Beads, term derived from the Saxon word biddan, meaning to pray. Primitive beads were made of seeds, pierced shells, teeth, and stone; later materials ranged from semiprecious stones to gold and silver. Beads have been used by humans since before history. Magical properties were assigned to them, such as the promotion of fertility and the ability to guard against evil spirits. They were often exported over vast distances by explorers for trade.

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