(0657) Antique Opalised Palmwood “Pumtek” bead, Burma

$370.00 (as of February 27, 2020, 12:14 pm)



A stunning antique opalised bead with the rare sun ray design. It has one equatorial stripe in the centre and a total of 24 lines or rays (12 on each side) extending horizontally across the body. This design is often compared to a ‘rail track’ or the stitching on a rugby ball. If you view the side profile you can see this decoration actually forms a sun-like design. With the sun being the circle around the holes and the sun rays being the lines that radiate outwards. Mostly good condition with weathering commensurate with age, a nick (very very old) near one hole, and a fake hole. Origin: Burma, Pyu Tircul Size: Diameter: 13mm. Wight: 2,82grms. In his “Hand book on the Haka Chin Customs” (1917), W. R. Head writes: “Tradition says that a man possessed a goat and according to the food he gave it, its dung became Pumtek beads. Good food produced good beads and vice versa”. Remember that also dZi beads, in Tibetan tradition, are considered Garuda droppings. The word Pumtek means ‘buried thunderbolt’ in the Chin language and is currently the most widely adopted name (outside of Burma) for this unique group of decorated stone beads. Pumtek were originally crafted in ancient times and they often display line decorated designs and unique motifs that are not found in any other region. The Chin also have individual names for each bead type and the rarer designs are highly valued.Pumtek are also unusual because they are created from silicified wood (also known as opalised, agatised, fossilised or petrified wood) and in some cases agate or chalcedony. This material is indigenous to Burma and Pumteks are therefore very distinct from other stone beads found in Asia. Pumteks that have travelled as a result of trade can also be found in neighbouring countries such as India and Thailand. Today they are mainly seen on heirloom necklaces belonging to the Chin (also known as Kuki), a tribal group that can be found spread out from Northwestern Burma to Northeastern India.Ancient Pumtek are often highly contrasted black and white decorated stone beads and some may be more than 2000 years old (400 BCE). Early 20th century Burmese bead makers also adopted the name Pumtek for their own newly created fossil wood beads.Wearing these beads was seen as a display of position and wealth within the tribal community and they also acted as protective amulets. As heirloom beads it has also been suggested that the Chin view them as being imbued with the power and blessing of their ancestors. Import duties, sales taxes (vat) and other charges are not included in the item prices or in the shipping charges. These charges are under the buyer’s responsibility. Please check with your country’s customs office to determine what these additional costs will be, before bidding / buying. If you are not satisfied of your purchase, we accept return within 14 days for a full refund, less postage. Please look carefully to our pictures and read sizes and weight, because pictures are oversized to show lacks and values. We do not accept to undervalue our items. Please do not pay before receiving the final invoice including shipping fees. We’ll ship out of Europe purchases over euro 100,00 ONLY by FedEx courier. Insurance on demand. Our items are vintage or antique and will show signs of age.However we will point out any damage or fault. Please look at our pictures, they are extremely precise, but they are just pictures, so colors could change from monitor to monitor. If you have any doubt about colors, please call us or write to us for any information. Please email us for any questions or additional photos. Although the utmost care is taken with packing and dispatch; all items are sent at owner’s risk.

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