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Dzi bead (pronounced Zee) is a bead stone of mysterious origin worn with a necklace and sometimes bracelet. Collectively in almost all Asian cultures, the bead is expected to provide positive spiritual benefit. They are generally prized as protective amulets.
Additional recommended knowledge
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 archetypal symbolic 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 cinnabar content. This is highly desirable, but more rare. Another desirable effect is something called "dragon skin," 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-yang symbols, 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 India. 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.
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, Ladakh and 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 due to the fact that 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.
Supply 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.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Dzi_bead". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|