The traditional or classical characteristic of the beads are disc shaped, orange in color, highly polished and without any surface blemish. Their dimensions are generally about 10 to 20 mm in diameter, 1 to 2.5 mm in width, and weighing about .5 to 2.5 grams. Most beads are biconically (two cones) drilled from both the front and the back surface but some are drilled completely through. Most beads have holes drilled in the center of the disc. There is a picture of some bead artifacts found on Tumon Bay, Guam here: http://historicguam.org/Historic%20Preservation%20Plan%20for%20Guam.pdf
Below is a picture of some ancient Spondylus disc beads housed in the CNMI Museum of History and Culture in Garapan, Saipan. The biggest disc bead here is about 51 mm in diameter. Look closely, and you’ll see that this particular bead has two holes to accommodate binding. Can you see the conically shaped drill hole of the top middle bead?
The next two pictures are also from the museum. It's a display collection of different ornamental artifacts collected by former United States Marine lieutenant and archeologist/naturalist Hans Hornbostle in the 1920s. According to the label, the artifacts were returned to Saipan by the Bishop Museum in Honolulu Hawaii in 1999.
After learning a little about the history of these artifacts and seeing how beautiful they are, I was hooked. I decided that I too would like to embark on a creative journey, much like the ancient people of my adoptive island home. So I “cut”, polish and bind my own versions of the Spondylus salape’ to give homage to the past and hopefully inspire others to discover for themselves the beauty of the ancient Chamorro culture.
This is a finished necklace and some bead discs that are ready to be bound. You can see that the Spondylus varies greatly in color which we shall explore on an upcoming post.
Finally, here are three more finished necklaces all in the classical shape of the Spondylus salape’ (the bead on the left is a toggle that closes the loop of a necklace. These are bound by beading cord of 100 % cotton.
Thank you for letting me share once again.