Amulets and pendants have served an important function in many African indigenous sub-cultures since antiquity, warding off evil, promoting fertility and even serving as a 'tool of prophecy' among shaman. Many of the African Bone Pendants we carry here at The Bead Chest derive from Neolithic symbols still used among tribes in Ethiopia and Kenya - such as the eye, which connotes both healing and protection. This symbol is most commonly found etched into Old Ethiopian Shaman Medicine Sticks. Crafted from camel bone, these fascinating talismans were often worn by healers and shaman, giving them insight into the ailments and psychological anxieties of other tribe members. Larger sticks often feature a series of punctured holes around the outer perimeter in which herbs would be placed to ward off evil spirits. The fiercely independent Maasai tribes of Kenya are one of Africa's biggest producers of African Bone Pendants, best known for their elaborately decorated Batik Bone Beads made from cow or camel bone. Batik Pendants are characterised by the strong contrast between bone and dye – often blackest brown against a canvas of white. This monochrome effect is actually the result of an ancient Malinese technique known as “Batik” whereby the design is first hand painted in wax, and the entire bead or pendant then submerged into a strong vegetable or peat dye. It can take several successive attempts to achieve the beautiful depth of contrast like those we have here at The Bead Chest!