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Known for their rustic appearance and tribal look, African brass beads are second only to recycled glass as Africa's most popular bead exports. For centuries, these hand-crafted beads doubled as a primitive form of currency in parts of Ethiopia and Ghana – ironically the two countries where this ancient art-form is seeing a widespread revival. Brass Beads continue to serve as a symbol of status in some parts of east Africa. Many antique brass beads from Africa were handmade using the “lost wax” process adopted by native craftsmen – a largely unevolved technique whereby molten metal is poured into a hardened, handmade wax cast and allowed to set. The metal adheres to the various whorls and strips of wax, which in turn begins to melt away as intense heat emanates from the ore. As it cools, the molten brass hardens, taking on the very same characteristics as the wax mold - usually a cross-hatched, ringed or woven design to support the bead's hollow structure. Ashanti Brass Beads produced by Ghanaian tribespeople are by far the most elaborate in comparison to the efforts of Ethiopia's Borana tribe. Kenya is also known for its solid brass beads which are now highly sought after in the West. Their smooth finish, coupled with their likeness to natural heishi beads makes Kenyan brass beads a versatile choice for contemporary stringing projects and brass jewelry. At The Bead Chest, we are proud to carry one of the largest selections of African brass beads, antique brass, and ethnic & tribal brass beads on the web.