Musing about Ancient Beads
Posted on June 18 2019
No more ancient beads to get after 2021!
Some of my 'spies' in the far East talked with bead dealers from Afghanistan and Pakistan. They said that nowadays it is really tough to find any ancient beads and within three years from now they will all be gone.
To mainland China where they will circulate within closed circles of wealthy collectors forming a kind of secret brotherhood, sealed off from the public eye.
The power of Bead-currency and the super rich
Here the real stuff will be used as a kind of bitcoins assisting high-end business transactions. DZI is of course the leading bead-coin. High-quality beads will in this setting act as a form of liquid cash much more easy and discrete to transport as compared to cash. Favors can be bestowed, not with vulgar suitcases full of dollars, but with a discrete handshake where a little black stone change hands. As in the case of cryptocurrency, it is difficult for big brother governments to get eyes on these transactions. A further advantage of the beadcoins is that there will not even be a digital trace to follow. Huge wealth can change hands with only these hands knowing.
Bead hunger and the nouveau riche
In a situation where not only DZI but all kinds of real ancient beads are getting more and more scarce: What can now satisfy the bead hunger for the significant growing number of wealthy, but not so oligarch type of people in China? These nouveau riche and not so educated layers of the Chinese society are imitating the trends in the upper class, but with lesser economic power, which in the Chinese bead culture is equivalent to Chung DZI, lesser DZI.
For sure there are already a lot of genuine ancient beads circulating in the wealthy segments of the Asian societies. There has been a steady flow of real beads into China the last 20 years. There are of course also many serious and knowledgeable Chinese higher middle-class collectors who love beads for the sake of beads.
However, seen in comparison to the rapidly growing number of wealthy bead-greedy people with no interest in beads as art or history they play a minor role.
A short meta-story about the mainland Chinese
Let me here for a brief moment go on a meta-level. There is nothing wrong with this social phenomenon. The story of newly rich people with no brains has been told all over the globe at different times in history. It is an unavoidable phenomenon when a newly wealthy middle class is emerging at a fast pace. As the English say: It takes three generations to make a gentleman. And for sure the new China is 'producing' new gentlemen and woman in an almost singular pace. I was surprised to meet so many super intelligent and cultivated young Chinese people at my last bead exhibition in Bangkok. You can see some of them in the photo above. Here in these 'Tr(i)umphant' times... Let China take over ASAP ... for God's sake!
Any ancient art object will remind us of the real inside ourselves.
In my case, I get this thirst for the real quenched when I hold an ancient bead in my hand. A genuine ancient bead is a sign and a piece of reality at the same time.