Skip to content


Padre Beads: The Christianity Connection

With a moniker such as "Padre", you'd be correct in guessing the beautiful translucent, wound rondelles, known as Padre beads, here at The Bead Chest are of Latin origin - Spanish to be exact. But how they made their windward journey, ending up in the farthest reaches of Africa and Asia is an intriguing story.

Spain and Portugal, between the 14th-15th Centuries were both sea-faring and colonizing empires. The era is actually dubbed the "Era of Exploration" by many historians, since the discoveries of the Americas, parts of Africa and Asia all occurred during this time. The Iberian Peninsula, which includes Spain and aspects of Portugal was once ruled over by Muslims, however the lands were "reclaimed" in the Twelfth Century by the "Christians". They began a period of domination and exploration, which would extend beyond the 16th Century.

Key to building rapports with the likes of Guinea, Africa and the Amer-Indians of Southern America, was the ability to trade. Of course, in those days, the solid silver currencies did not exist in oft considered "under-developed" and "uncivilized" lands, therefore beads became a loose format. Successive Spanish and Portuguese missions to Africa seemed to the indigenous natives, an attempt to build economies between the distant nations. This was a pre-emptive motion on the part of the exploring nations.

In truth, they sought to colonize these new lands, gradually eradicating all other religions and spreading the Gospel of Christianity to all. During the 15th Century, a number of successive attempts to capture areas along the African coast resulted in a large proportion of resistors becoming slaves, sold by their tribe leaders who perceived such acts as treason - sold for Padre Beads to be precise! Most tribe leaders still perceived the Spanish/ Portuguese to be potentially lucrative to their regions, however the ensuing slave trade of the 16th Century would prove them otherwise.

Padre Beads were in effect, a bargaining tool - a form of trade beads. The real motives of the Spanish explorers, were to eradicate Islam, and bring some semblance of civilization to the indigenous lands. Unhappy with merely trading, they wished to conquer, rule and conform Africa to their very own persuasion!

Despite the manner in which both Spain and Portugal attempted to claim Africa for their own, they did have some influence upon tribal development. Parts of what is now Ghana, embraced the fascinating new culture the Europeans had demonstrated, and sought education and fruition through the teachings of the Bible. In effect, Padre Beads paid for Africa's early theological education, and commenced a faith that now is considerably widespread throughout the entire continent.

Fancy a slice of early Christian history to call your own? Then why not check out the bountiful array of Padre Beads stocked here at The Bead Chest. With their aged character, and stunning spectral colors, you could be investing in a piece of archaic treasure - a symbol of over 400 years!