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Guelmim's Mysterious Moroccan Love Beads

Morocco is no stranger to exemplary craftsmanship and beautiful art; its bustling souks and bazaars littered with fine examples of silver work, beads and jewelry by the nomadic Berber people, such as Moroccan love beads.

The History of Goulimine Beads

The origin of Goulimine Beads revolves around the ancient city of Marrakech is modernly considered the epicenter for trade in Morocco, however, there is another, equally fascinating city that was once the trading hub of Berbers and Venetian merchants alike.

Guelmim Desert

Guelmim – also known as the “Gateway to the Desert” - lies on the edge of the Western Sahara in Southern Morocco, bounded by Mali, Algeria and Mauritania. Situated just South of the Gibraltar strait, it was an important crossroads for trade between Europe and Africa during the 19th Century.

It was during this period that large quantities of Venetian glass beads found their way into Morocco via European merchants.

From Chevrons and Millefioris to tiny glass “Christmas” beads cut from single canes, all were considered a valuable medium of currency by African merchants whom willingly handed over animal pelts and palm oil in exchange for them.

Known Today As Goulimine Beads

But, while the Millefioris and Chevrons went on to have a long and documented history, Christmas Beads were largely forgotten about until the mid 1960s. Allegedly, hippies from Europe and America flooded to Guelmim for its cheap markets, and it was they who rediscovered the tiny Christmas Beads traded during the 19th century.

They were particularly versatile for hair braids and psychedelic layered necklaces – both popular fashions during the 1960s. The beads became known as “Goulimine Beads” and latterly “Love Beads.”