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In our time, the main area of powder glass bead manufacture is West Africa, most importantly, Ghana.The origins of bead making in Ghana are unknown, but the great majority of powder glass beads produced today are made by Ashanti and Krobo craftsmen and women.Glass beads are usually categorized by the method used to manipulate the glass.Most beads fall into three main categories: wound beads, drawn beads, and molded beads.
There are composites, such as millefiori beads, where cross-sections of a drawn glass cane are applied to a wound glass core.A very minor industry in blown glass beads also existed in 19th century Venice and France.The beadmaking industry at Bida is famous throughout West Africa, with beadmakers melting coloured glass from bottles or other glass beads in a small, wood burning furnace.They then use rods to form the molten glass into various shapes before decorating their beads with a distinctive white pattern by winding a thin trail of white melted glass around the bead while it is still hot. Beads may be strung on fibre cord or metal wire to create bracelets and necklaces; stitched to a backing of fibre, canvas or leather; or stitched to burlap or cloth Earliest powder glass beads on record were discovered during archaeological excavations at Mapungubwe, in present-day Zimbabwe, and dated to 970-1000 CE.
As well as colourful ensembles, a visual impact can be achieved by a single bead of fine workmanship.Beadmaking industries still flourish among the Krobo peoples of Ghana and the Nupe peoples of Nigeria.