AUD $300.00

Ancient Bactrian Lapis Beads


A small assorted collection of Ancient Bactrian chunky Lapis beads, with a matte dull old surface.

The colour is middling, with some "denimy" flecking and quite deep patches varying over the length of the bead.

The shapes are all different, the largest is reactangular with the corners cut off, creating a diamond face and measures L19 mm x 14 mm, the hole is about 2.5 mm, but is smaller in the center where the drilling from both ends met.

The other three are similar in size;

one is a smaller version of the largest but is more organic and less regular (L 15 mm x W 14 mm, hole D 2.5 mm, but a bit smaller inside.)

another is a tapering, almost flattened "bi conal" (L 16 mm x W 12 mm, hole D 2 mm.)

the last is a rounded barrel with a richer colour and  either a vein or possibly (?) a repair (L 19 mm x W 14 mm, hole 2 mm.)


The trade in Lapis Lazuli either worked into beads or raw chunks precedes the earliest civilisations and was a contributing factor in the creation of trade routes in the region.

It was carried to Mesopotamia and Syria from the mines of Badakshan in North Eastern Afghanistan, where it has been mined for over 5,000 years. Stocks of unworked Lapis have been found in Mari in NE Syria and worked beads in the Royal graves of Ur. The goddess Ishtar was known as "Our Lady of Lapis" the Egyptians treasured it but had very little as it mainly came as State Gifts from Persia and Assyria, long before the trade to Europe began. (Check Tutankhamun's Mask, all those blue stripes in his headdress are "Egyptian Blue" glass, made and used specifically to imitate Lapis, check closely only his eyeliner is Lapis !)

Long beads were harder to drill and therefore more appreciated for this reason. (Ironically, though, tiny beads can be considered elite too as they require so much work and waste so much material in their manufacture.)

The interior hole is about 1 mm so it can be threaded on silk or tiger tail but not on a cord, chain or choker. To thread them you can either use a cap to cover the ends or I use a small (2 mm or 3mm ?) bead as a pivot when threading.

All the corners are smoothly worn and rounded, I'd suggest if you're going to thread these that they would make nice features as each has it's own character.

Age: Circa 200 BC to 200 AD

Size: Largest is L 19 mm x W 14 mm.

Weight: 26 grams.