DZi beads age, history and certificates

I told you about dZi beads authenticity in my previous article (read here). Now I will try to answer the frequently asked question about the age of dZi beads that I bring and their history.

My dear friends, I have already written that you can hardly find ancient dZi brads on the open market. That is why almost all the existing in Eastern Asia beads refer to up-to-date items. Nevertheless, some people ask how old they are.

“I know that this dZi bead is not ancient, but all the same tell me how old it is and its history, who its owner was and so on”, – this is the most popular question which the residents of Russia and former CIS ask me. It is interesting to note that the Englishmen and the Americans, for example, ask me about it seldom or never. More often they ask nothing about it. They realize that taking into account the price of the bead this question is often irrelevant.

The point is that in Russia dZi beads became popular later and in due time there appeared a lot of stories about the ancient items. Some online media sell common dZi beads (artificially aged) at fabulous prices which are not true. Moreover, they state that this item is “ancient” and “family”, that can’t be true especially when online shops offer hundreds of dZi beads for sale. It is nonsense to think that all the museum exhibit items suddenly got to this seller. Or that all the Tibetans gave him their family beads. It can’t be true. I can say it as I have been travelling about Eastern Asia for many years.

The pagoda’s shop of the ancient Buddhist complex

You can hardly find a person who would answer how old up-to-date dZi bead (new age or artificially aged) is. The sellers themselves do not know it and do not ask this question. I always hold up as an example the following situation. For example, you come to China, Nepal, India or Tibet, it does not matter. You come in to the shop. There you see dozens or hundreds of dZi beads with prices. There are only prices and no information about history or age. Hundreds of people buy different things in this shop: some of them buy fragrances, amulets, others buy sacral subjects. Do you really believe that the seller will come to you and tell you about each bead? He does not know this information himself! Because these beads are not museum exhibit items. Besides, in China-Tibet they do not speak English at all. You won’t understand each other.

Much less speak about street vendors. Even if these are Tibetan small markets.

Although one accident happened to me in China. On the market I needed to buy not expensive ceramic artificially aged vase for my friend. There were also sold a lot of dZi beads which were in big bags. Of course, they were neither from pagodas nor authentic. These were large-scale beads – consumer goods (see the right picture). I never buy dZi beads from such places, because they are not interesting for me, I always look for more interesting items in pagoda’s shops.

Consumer dZi beads on the street market. Pressed agate.

One buyer insistently asked the seller how old a dZi bead in the stall was. The Chinese tried to explain something but then gave up and wrote 100. After that I came to the seller and asked him why he had said that the bead was 100 years old, as it was one of consumer beads, and he had hundreds of them in a bag. The Chinese said: “he wouldn’t get off my back…”. Sometimes it seems that the man wants to be deceived when he thinks that a hundred of similar beads on the stall can be 100 years old and can have a history…

I tell about most of my beads that their age is unknown. I don’t want to misinform anybody. Moreover, I am not an expert and I’m not good at stones. I seldom learn from some collectors about the approximate age of my exhibit items. But these are only the collector’s words without any confirmations.

DZi beads which cost hundred thousands of dollars may have the expert’s conclusion. But I can say again that these are single items on the world market. All the other items are not authentic to professional collectors’ mind. However, even inauthentic item can be called a dZi bead too (well, how can such amulet be called in a different way?)

Today there are a lot of questions regarding some dZi beads certificates, which are sold together with the amulets in online markets. Below is the example of such certificate.

Such certificate does not confirm the bead authenticity! If you know Chinese you will easily translate that this document states that this is a stone (in this case chalcedony), it includes information about the shape, color and weight of the stone. But it doesn’t include the information about the bead authenticity. You can get such certificate for any thing in China. It can be any bead from market. The certificate which you can see on the picture was gifted to me by my familiar Chinese girl. Of course, this is not authentic dZi bead. You may ask what for such certificates are made. First of all, they are made to make the goods look more serious, secondly, to make pleasure for people to gift such presents for their friends. For example, the bead with certificate is like remembrance.

In conclusion I’d like to tell you about the stories and legends. There are a lot of legends about dZi beads. From time to time I will tell you about the “dragon skin” beads and “snow leopard skin” beads, and about many other legends. It’s difficult to decide which of them are true and which are fairy tales. On their own they are always interesting and add some folklore and “national Tibet-Chinese color” to the beads.

As for the stories of different items. “Do you think that there are no such stories?” – you ask. Of course, there are some. Moreover, any bead has its own story. Because someone made it for some purpose. Someone owned it, maybe the seller from whom you have bought it. When you get the bead you will have your own story of this dZi bead. As a rule, we know nothing about the most dZi beads stories. Nobody tells about it. Only seldom when remarkable accidents and even miracles happen – the story about this or that dZi bead impresses very much, and sometimes it turns into a legend. Who knows you may be wearing a dZi bead which will become a very valuable item that will make a miracle in your life…


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