Lost Cities Beads- A Place For the Unique

Friday, October 28, 2011

Antique Bead Collection: Pema-Raka

Pema Raka, in all it's ancient red-orange glory.

We've got some new additions to our ancient and antique beads case.
These red-orange Pema Raka (also known as Pemma Raka) hail from western Tibet and Sinkiang province and were made into beads prior to 1000 AD. We've had some Pema Raka beads in the past, but they were quite different from these. These are smaller, rounded beads and were particularly used in malas (prayer beads).

Pema Raka (left) and natural red coral (right) both exhibit highly desired red tones. Despite Pema Raka's more red-orange color, it is still prized by the Tibetan people.

The name Pema Raka is believed to have come from the sanskrit words Padma (meaning lotus flower) and Rakta (red or blood) translating to 'blood lotus' or 'red lotus'. These beads are also referred to as 'stone of the right color' (no doubt due to their closeness in color to coral beads). The color red is auspicious in Tibetan culture and considered sacred. Pema Raka has sometimes been referred to as "poor mans coral", but it has been treasured for its own unique qualities that make it an equally collectible bead.

Pema Raka pieces featuring natural "eyes".

For centuries the Tibetan people have used Pema Raka as protection from evil spirits and illness. They were also used as an important ingredient in Tibetan medicine. Some pieces feature natural white banding which can form "eyes" in the stone. These "eyes" are believed to specifically protect the wearer from the evil eye.

Robin is modeling our necklace of Pema Raka hand picked by the owner, Christina. This necklace is on display in the store and could be all yours for $247.

If you'd like to know more about these beads or other ancient Tibetan beads, we encourage you to seek out these books; The Jewelry of Nepal by Hannelore Gabriel and The History of Beads by Lois Sherr Dubin. The first book is no longer in print and maybe be difficult to find (such a shame, it's a beautiful book) but the other two are back in print and would make wonderful additions to any beaders collection. For a quick refresher you can visit our website http://www.lostcitiesbeads.com/ or better yet, come in for a visit! We'd be happy to share our bead knowledge with you!