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Rare accessories from Mauritania and Mali

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

Kiffa bead necklace made in Mauritania                      

African beads, also known as trade beads, developed their own unique character along with the history of trade. The Kiffa beads are made by a group of African women in Kiffa (*1), Mauritania, consisting entirely of hand-colored ceramics and glass. This work is from early 20th century, Φ83.0. Despite the highest artistic skills shown, simple materials and tools were used, such as pulverized bead glass, bottle glass, tin cans, a needle, and gum arabic in the process of making.

*1: Kiffa is a large town in the far south region of Mauritania

Red amber, chevron bead necklace

This is from 17th century Mali (Φ75.0 cm). Chevron trade beads were initially made in Venice for trade with Africa for palm oil, ivory, etc., and even slaves. Africans found great value in chevron beads and used them for a variety of purposes, including decoration and currency.


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