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A necklace of real coral beads

The State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw

The State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw

Polish peasants believed that buying strings of beads was a good investment. The value of three strings (the usual number worn) more or less equalled the worth of 4-5 cows or 1.4 acres of land.The jewellery was inherited through maternal line, bequeathed, argued over in inheritance disputes and could be also put in pledge for loans. In most areas of Poland they were often a necessary element of trousseau and they were worn with festive outfits.
The beads were attributed with a number of magical functions: for example their colour reflected their wearer’s health - fading colours meant an illness. The number of strings and the shape of the beads depended on the region. There were always an odd number of strings; round, bright red beads were the most valuable, ovals little less and the so-called “chaff” (miniature cylinders) were worth the least. Various crosses or medallions were often attached to the strings of beads.

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Details

  • Title: A necklace of real coral beads
  • Photographer: Photo by: Edward Koprowski, Edit: Marzena Borman / SEM in Warsaw

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