Mali is home to many exotic bead markets. Below are African beads from Mali. A large variety of trade beads are found in the West African nation of Mali. These include Wedding Beads, Clay Beads, Stone Beads, Brass Beads, Vaseline Beads, Dogon Beads and many other styles. Some of these beads are produced locally and others were brought to Mali through foreign trade. A number of sub-Saharan ethnic groups make up the population of Mali including the Bambara, Soninke, Khassonke, Malinke, Dogon, and a number of smaller groups.
Mali Wedding Beads are especially well known due to their unique and colorful appearance. These beads can actually be as much as a century old and most were originally brought to Africa for trade from Czechoslovakia however newer varieties also exist. Mali Wedding beads come in a number of different designs including tear-drop and triangle shapes and are multi-colored even within a single strand. Traditionally, these beads are given as a wedding gift and this where they derive their name.
Similarly Vaseline beads were traded in Mali as early as the 19th century when they were imported from European regions such as Bohemia and Czech. These are made of semi-translucent glass and come in a number of colors including green and yellow. Some colors are more rare than others.
Quartz and stones beads of ancient origin have also been excavated in Mali West Africa. For example, one variety of quartz beads was found near Djenne, a city in Mali. Other beads may be made of Carnelian, Amazonite, Granite Jasper, or Agate. Some of these beads traveled to Mali during ancient times along Roman trade routes. The Mali Empire reached its zenith in the 14th century when the cities of Djenne and Timbuktu were major centers of learning and trade in gold, salt and slaves were a major source of wealth.