Mad in Pursuit Notebook

bone beads


WHAT. Condor bones, incised; with hardstone and shell spacers

ORIGIN. From the Paracas culture of northern, coastal Peru

ERA. 800-100 B.C.E.

STORY. Jim bought these in Lima, Peru, in 1967, long before he fell in love with a bead collector. In fact, he wouldn't let me add them to my collection till I promised never to wear them. He considered them sacred.

The condor is important in the folklore of the South American Andean regions, and has been represented in Andean art from c. 2500 B.C.E. onward. It is associated with the sun deity, is believed to be the ruler of the upper world, and symbolizes power and health. Its bones and organs were medicine. [Wikipedia]

The Paracas civilization was thriving about the same time as ancient Rome, long before the Incas. They are admired for their sophisticated irrigation systems and esteemed for their fine weaving. And I can imagine their shamans summoning the great condor spirit by carefully inscribing lines on these hollow, two-inch bones. Certainly, they are precious and powerful to have survived intact for 2000 years. And maybe because they also meant so much to Jim, I too believe they are sacred.

bone beads



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All pages in this website by Susan Barrett Price are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. [The snowstorm image at the top of this page came from Wikipedia, under a Creative Commons license.]