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Origins of Beaded Flowers

Written by Jonalee A. Crabb/ known in the SCA as Roxelana Bramante.
Why Beadwork?

Beads have been prevalent since the prehistoric era. The ancient Egyptians left us with many examples of beadwork and beads were around for centuries before their time. Beads have been found in almost every culture, at almost every time throughout history. Beads have been fashioned out of every conceivable material: minerals and gem stones, shells, clay, pearls, and glass to name a few. Yet what is the point of having a bead? Why take the time to fashion a hole through a stone if not to run a string through it so it may be tied onto a strap or collar or such? For surely, if there are beads then there will be beadwork. From the simplest strung necklace to the most elaborate embroideries, the bead was the first element in its construction. Without the bead there can be no beadwork, and without beadwork there is no need for beads. After all, it was never the beads themselves that captivated me but what could be done with them, what they could become once they had been strung together, or woven, or stitched. With all the many ways beads can be threaded together, there are an endless variety of things that can be created, formed, or evened pictured.

This quest to find new stitches, new and different things to make from my little collection of beads has been a near life-long obsession with me. After all, anyone can own a pile of beads, but not everyone has the patience and creativity to make something of those beads. Aside from a multitude of jewelry items what does one make from those beads? The answer of course, is anything you wish. If you can imagine it than you can make it. Maybe not on your first try, or even your second, but if you persist you will eventually accomplish your goal.

Did the same thinking apply to those who owned little piles of beads many centuries ago? Probably. Beads cry out to become a part of something. Items of beadwork survive from the Medieval period, though they are few. Paintings show even more uses of beads. The literature of the time has little to say, but even there, one can find a mention of beadwork, hazy as the description might be.

But why beadwork? Because a bead really isnt much good without beadwork. I have a favorite of course. Beaded flowers. Flowers so real that the first instinct after picking one up is to draw it near to smell its scent, to inhale its aroma. But unless the flower has been sprayed with perfume, there will be no scent, no aroma whatsoever. Did people with little piles of beads many centuries ago take those beads and fashion them into flowers? Without a doubt they did. In England during the mid seventeenth century they did and many survive to prove it. But before that time the evidence is sketchy at best.

I wanted to know where, and when, these beautiful beaded flowers started, so I went to the local library to research their beginnings. I was very depressed about what I could not find. There are no books specifically dealing with the history of beaded flowers, there are less than a dozen books published giving directions on how to create a variety of beaded flowers, bead books generally contain either history or technique but seldom both, and beaded flowers -- in fact, historical beadwork of any sort -- is seldom even mentioned. Suddenly I felt this overwhelming need to know why. When the research started I thought it would be a matter of checking out a couple of books, but after I had read the hundredth book, I realized this is a subject that has gone completely overlooked. If I really wanted to know the origins of these beaded flowers I would have to do all the work. And so I set out to document the history of beaded flowers.

Forms of Beadwork

Flowers can be created, or depicted, using almost every form of beadwork. Beads themselves can be, and have been, made in the form of a flower. But to find the history of beaded flowers we must first understand the forms of beadwork comprising their construction.

There are several different types of beadwork. The simplest form is stringing -- stringing the beads on thread or wire and either tying or twisting the ends together or tying the ends to a clasp of some sort. Beads sold in hanks are temporarily strung on a cotton thread. (I should also mention there is an art form in Central and South America where beads are pressed into a glue or wax substance forming a mosaic. While it is work done with beads I do not consider it to be beadwork per se because the hole of the bead is not utilized.)

Advanced forms of stringing include plaiting, fringe, and French flowers. Other, more complicated, forms of beadwork include netting, knitting and/or crocheting, weaving, laced, loomed, and embroidered (stitched or couched).

Plaiting involves taking several strands of bead-filled wires and braiding them in some manner. For the most part, plaiting only requires that each bead be strung thru once. A period example of plaiting can be seen on a Shoso-in Temple flower basket dating to the eighth century. These baskets, which measure about 36 centimeters, come from a Japanese temple where they were used to hold rose petals that were strewn on the floors during certain festivals. 1

Netting is very similar to plaiting but differs in that, rather than braiding the strands, the strands hold some beads (every tenth bead, for instance) in common. Netting can be seen in use in Egyptian mummy covers and was pictured on some Egyptian dresses. In period it was probably a fairly common technique but almost no examples survive, although it can be seen in portraits on some headdresses originating in the Russias.2 There is a portrait of Marie of Austria upon her betrothal that not only shows her hair tied up in a bead netted hairnet, it also shows a beaded fringe hanging down the back of the hairnet.3

Though I have done very little research into the histories of knitting and crocheting, the fact that beads were woven into fabric is of little question. Small colored glass beads were woven into a belt in the eighth century in Japan4 and into a tapestry of the early thirteenth century from the Xixia empire in China.5 Beads were also said to have been used in some laces and trims of the late sixteenth century but I have been unable to find extent examples other than several pictured in Janet Arnolds book Queen Elizabeths Wardrobe U'locked. There are many European paintings of the period showing gowns with a beaded edge which looks like lace with beads woven in. To create any type of bead knitting one must first place all the beads needed onto the yarn or thread and then feed them into the knitting as one progresses.

Weaving beads is by far the most popular technique used in the West today. Bead weaving is the art of covering an area, using a solitary stitch to add each bead, that doesnt involve the use of fabric or a loom.6 Often referred to as off-loom beading, it consists of using primarily a needle and thread (though wire may be used), and applying each bead separately using a stitching pattern to create a finished article. Popular stitches, much like in the execution of embroidery, all create a different finished appearance, but the most common are the peyote, brick, square, and right-angle weave. The primary stitch that is used with wire is the ladder stitch. All of these stitches usually leave the beads facing horizontally and/or vertically. The peyote stitch, as well as the ladder stitch, can be seen in Egyptian artifacts, primarily in the wide collars. There are also similar collars from central America dating to the fifteenth century utilizing the peyote stitch and wide necklaces from the Burgundian era using the ladder stitch. While I have found no surviving examples of the brick or square stitch, there is a surviving example of the right angle weave attributed to Chinese manufacture and that dates to the Ming dynasty (1334 to 1573).7

Visually there is almost no difference between the brick and peyote stitches. Upon close examination of a piece, noting the thread pattern and the main direction of the beads, one might be able to tell the difference. If a few of the beads are missing, the object is falling apart, and one gets a close look at the object, it might be easier to tell which stitch was used in the creation. The same is true for embroidered pieces. Without looking at the stitches on the back of the piece it can be impossible to tell if a piece is stitched or couched, or if the beads were first woven in small sections and then sewn onto the fabric in question. And if a piece looks to be peyote stitched and then couched onto fabric, it may actually be brick stitched, or just sewn right onto the fabric without having been stitched at all. While there are few pieces that would pose such a question as to the manner of its construction, there are some that would make any study without deconstructing the piece futile. Study of the manipel, a German piece dating to the first half of the thirteenth century, is one piece posing such a problem.8 For all practical purposes it would appear that the few beads remaining on the piece are set there by brick stitch and then couched onto the fabric. It would take a hands-on look to be sure though.

Bead lace is very much like bead weaving. The two differ in that bead weaving uses a very regular pattern requiring the same number of beads in every stitch (after the first row) while bead lace is usually patterned using the same series of stitches (perhaps five different stitches done in the same order) to complete an item. Visually, bead weaving is a tighter, more solid and uniform looking piece, while bead lace has a more frilly look and the beads face a multitude of directions. An example of bead lace can be found on a set of large Russian earrings ( created to hook over the ears) dating to 1613.9 The area known as the Chinese Straits produced bead lace almost exclusively and in great quantities. Though there are no known examples dating prior to 1730, it is very likely that even the oldest of the surviving examples were the result of a long-standing tradition. The reason older pieces do not survive are varied but the main factors are climate and time. The climate of the Chinese Straits is tropical and few things survive there long term, even with proper storage.10 Time itself also takes a toll. Bead lace is dependant on the strength of the string used and if the piece is large and hung, supported by one side, the weight of the beads themselves will take its toll on the thread. Once a piece starts to decay it can either be restrung or the beads are recycled into another project. And the beads themselves, if they are formed of glass, cant really be dated with any certainty so the problem of dating an object becomes even more complicated.

It was noted in 1438 women in Castile Spain possessed "beads, corals, threaded pearls, collars of gold and particoloured stuff," and women mercers or sellers of second-hand clothes carried such items as "head ornaments, bracelets of seed-pearl and black beads, others of blue beads, ten thousand to each bracelet, of various workmanship..."11 but, because the items are not described in any great detail, it is impossible to tell of what method these items were created. Even if ten thousand beads per bracelet is an exaggeration, one thing is certain - they are not said to have been embroidered and there is no fabric involved in the description. Thus they were probably woven or laced in some fashion.

Of all the ways to use beads, loomed work is probably the only one that is not period, though judging from a piece of poetry from the 13th-14th century writings of the Grantha Sahib (2352) by Nam Dev, even that can be questioned. The verse is as follows:

Everything is Govinda

Everything is Govinda

There is nothing without Govinda

Just as there is one thread

And on it are woven breadthwise and lengthwise

Hundreds of thousands of beads

So is everything woven unto the Lord

According to Peter Francis, Jr., this is the earliest literary reference to beadwork, though it probably refers to a non-loomed weave (because loomed beading requires many threads rather than one).12 While no one seems to know where or when loomed work was first applied to beads, there does not appear to be any evidence it was ever practiced in Europe prior to the seventeenth century. Loom work is primarily practiced by the American Indians today. Loomed beadwork is created in much the same way loomed fabric is created; strings are threaded onto the weft of the loom and a bead covered thread is lined up on the weave, another thread is run through the beads on the other side of the weft threads securing the beads, then the next row is applied in the same manner. Loomed work implies the fabric created is composed entirely of beads. Beads incorporated into other fabrics - tapestries for instance - would fall into the category of knitting and crocheting.

The last category of beadwork is embroidered. Some of the earliest surviving examples of bead embroidery date to the fourth century BCE. and were uncovered on the Mongolian steppe. They consist of a pair of womans booties with small black glass beads and pyrite crystals sewn on the soles with sinew and a small mirror case speckled with lavender colored glass beads.13 There are numerous surviving ecclesiastical embroideries dating to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in Germany,14 as well as in Russia, almost all of which are composed of some combination of small glass beads, pearls, coral beads, and metal plaques or spangles. Paintings of the same era show secular items were also embroidered in the same manner.

One of the best examples of secular bead embroidery comes from the tomb of the Infante Don Fernando de la Cerda, circa 1270 in Spain. The tomb was opened in 1943 to reveal the Infante wore a mantle, supertunic and a tunic all cut from a gold brocade of pure silk closely decorated with rows of shields quartering the gold castles of Castile and the blue lions of León. The castles are outlined in silver-gilt thread and have doors and windows of blue beads, while the lions have eyes of coral beads and silver thread. The ground was thickly sewn with lines of seed pearls. The girdle was richly done in a large part with pearl and sapphire beads.15 Bead embroidery seems to have survived to some extent throughout the Middle Ages on the European continent. It did not appear until the mid to late sixteenth century in England and was comprised of mainly pearl and bead encrusted gowns until the mid-seventeenth century, when the English started to produce glass beads of their own for export to the colonies. Apparently many of the beads remained in England because within the next fifty years an abundance of bead worked items were produced.

Perhaps the most intriguing applications of beadwork in seventeenth century England are the frivolous little gardens very occasionally found inside the caskets and the more usual baskets, hair ornaments, sprays and vases of flowers, even mirror frames and candlesticks, built up in full relief. The tiny beads are threaded on stiff wires and these built up into petals, leaves and so on, supported on twisted ropes of thicker bead-covered wire. Roses, forget-me-nots, blackberries, well-padded peas and acorns, catkins, veined leaves and more may be presented with considerable realism; such posies and baskets returned in Victorian days. A basket with a linen canvas ground couched with strings of beads at the Victoria and Albert Museum is signed and dated Sarah Gurnall August 24 Anno 1659. Beadwork in Lady Richmonds collection includes a four-wheeled chariot in translucent white and colored glass beads over a modeled framework of wire, rare and early in the seventeenth century manner.16

Now that we have defined the many different forms beadwork can take, its time to define the main forms used in the creation of beaded flowers. After all, we now know almost all of the main categories of beadwork were possibilities in pre-seventeenth century Europe and therefor can be considered in deciding the origins of beaded flowers.

Types of Beaded Flowers

Of all the applications of beadwork, the flowers captivated me the most. The main focus of my research has been the history of beaded flowers. Beaded flowers can be created or depicted using any of the forms of beadwork we have already discussed, with the possible exception of netting. Flowers have been a popular motif in almost every medium and, even in the Middle Ages, floral designs were embroidered, carved, molded, and woven into many things. But it is the three-dimensional flowers, flowers that, once they are created look as if nature itself has been frozen in time, that I wish to define here.

There are three main ways to create these three-dimensional beaded flowers: the French method, the English method, and the Continental method. The French method uses only the technique of stringing in the creation of beaded flowers, stringing beads onto wire before starting, then the flowers are made by using the end of the wire and feeding the beads into the flower and twisting. The English method is far more complicated and employs several methods, mainly woven or twisted on either wire or thread (though thread will hold its shape only if the weave is tight or a wire frame is involved), embroidered in the same way raised embroidery was done, and some stringing. Finally, the Continental method uses the ladder stitch predominantly, but also incorporates a lot of design elements most closely resembling a laced stitch or an artistic kind of netted lace. There is some crossover between the methods, most notably in the simple looping technique, but the distinctions are very clear.

The French method is the only one of the three holding to the idea each bead will be run through on a wire only once. This is convenient since originally these beads were most probably castoffs because they did not fit over the needle for stringing. Both the Continental and the English methods require at least some of the beads (all of them in the case of weaving) will need to be run through twice, some of them three or even more times. The more times a wire must pass through a bead the larger the hole must be. It should also be noted prior to the Victorian era, beads frequently were smaller (to size 22 compared to 15 today) than those created later in time and the holes were smaller in proportion.

The English method, so called because the first recorded use is seen in conjunction with English embroideries of the mid seventeenth-century, is the only method using thread. There are flowers woven using the right-angle weave, square, and peyote stitch, all done on thread. There is, although found far less frequently, a method requiring a wire framework (an outline of the object to be created such as a leaf) where the beads are then woven inside the frame. There is also some wire based looping and wire wrapping, where several bead covered wires are spiraled around a stronger and larger wire and then wrapped around an even larger wire, thereby creating a framework for other decorations. For instance, basket frames are done in this way, but wire wrapping can also be used to cover things like candlestick holders, mirror frames, even tree branches if one so chooses.

The Continental method uses some twisted loops also, but the most popular technique is the ladder stitch. The ladder stitch is named because the creation resembles a ladder, with either plain wire or single strung beads on the sides and beads strung through in both directions on what would be the rungs. The ladder stitch can be done in sections and then the sections can be sewn together to form more complicated shapes. There are also many looped types holding one or two beads in common (i.e. there are a certain number of beads in each loop that have more than one wire running through it) either as single loops or double loops (though not usually more than two). There is also a spiking technique, the same one used in non-looped fringe, where a row of beads is created and then, skipping the end bead, one runs the wire back up through the beads. Also included are a number of free-form stitches usually requiring a great deal of measuring and some very precise patterns to get the construction right. Flowers using only the ladder stitch are probably just as old as those of the French method, though the rest of the stitches comprising the Continental method appear to be rather modern in nature.

There is almost no way of knowing which of these methods was used in medieval settings because there are almost no surviving examples of beaded flowers dating prior to 1600. There are several surviving examples dating to the mid-seventeenth century, all of the English variety, which is by far the most complicated to make. It is certain though, basic looped flowers date much further back and, because they are the easiest to make, were most likely the first beaded flowers.

A History of Beaded Flowers

Long before the creation of beaded flowers there were flowers created with the use of a single bead. A great number of bead flowers can be found in the archives of history. The Greeks used single beads for berries and, along with leaves of gold, created laurel wreaths. The Japanese, who seemed to be quite advanced in beadwork of all types based on surviving examples, and the Chinese both used flowers consisting of one to five beads, along with enameled and gold flowers and leaves, for burial crowns. Even the Egyptians created crowns with gold wire, enameled flowers and beads. The flower itself was a popular motif in many cultures throughout history and representations of flowers were depicted with just about every conceivable material that could be shaped, molded, carved, painted, stitched, or bent. Beads themselves were made in the shape of flowers; pendants and beads in the shape of leaves. Flowers were everywhere, or so it seems.

But an in-depth history of beaded flowers has yet to be written. Bead books offering a history of beads seem to only be interested in the beads and not their uses. Books pertaining to the history of beadwork deal mainly with objects more modern in nature and do not spend much time dealing with the origins of various forms and stitches except to say the Egyptians practiced many of them. The early medieval history of beads and beadwork does not exist because we know so very little about the beads and research in that area has only just begun. If an example of beadwork exists there is little supporting evidence to say if it followed the norm or if it was a rarity of its time. While there are many books on the history of paintings or glass or embroidery, there is not one book dedicated to the early history of all forms of beadwork.

What I did find were three un-documentable (at least by me) histories about the origins of beaded flowers, most just a paragraph long that serve as the introduction to a pattern book. The stories are vastly different and, without actually having a beaded-flower that can be verifiably dated, it can be next to impossible to decide which of the stories, if any, is believable. By looking at the culture, country, time period, etc. surrounding the stories we can decide exactly how likely it is to be true. All three of these stories are based on unknown sources. Without knowing where any of them got their information there is no way of knowing if the details are poorly summarized, or just plain misread and there-fore mistranscribed. None of these stories can truly stand on its own without further documentation.

In order to find the origins of beaded flowers one must first look for several factors to be in play at the same time. There must be a culture in which flowers are highly regarded and have uses outstripping the available flower supply. If there are natural flowers available there is no need to create an artificial version. In other words, there must be a reason, an end use, a motivation behind the creation, even if the only reason is to create beauty. There must be a desire of some sort. There must also be a supply of both wire and beads available to the populace in adequate quantity so they are not held as extremely valuable. If they have great worth, then they would not be squandered, and if they had no worth at all then both the wire and the beads would have been destined for the waste heap and not used in any manner.

To go into an in-depth analysis of wire production and availability is beyond the scope of the current project. It does appear, however, wire was widely available throughout Europe during the entire Middle Ages. It is clear from the archeological evidence wire came in a multitude of sizes and in a variety of metals. For our argument then, we will assume the availability of wire is not much of an issue. However it should also be considered those who worked with wire on a regular basis, professionals such as milliners, jewelers, and glass workers, would be more likely to put beads and wire together for other uses, and would, therefore, be more inclined to make beaded flowers, providing they had some motivation to do so.

The availability of beads is another matter entirely. Beads not only had to be available but they had to be abundant. The mere fact that a large number of beads were being produced in a given area does not mean beads were abundant in the same area. It may be the case all of the locally produced beads were made for export or the beads were only produced in a number required for a pre-given purpose. Beads made of a type suitable for beaded flowers were usually of glass. These glass beads were most likely created by the drawn method and therefore could not have been produced by someone outside of the glass works because of the extreme heat needed to melt glass.

Paternoster makers, while quite abundant, did not usually create beads smaller and of a size conducive to the creation of beaded flowers. The beads best suited for flower making are very small, referred to as conterie in parts of Europe, as well as seed beads, or rocailles. But prior to 1600 most beads were referred to using very generalized terms. Paternoster was a term used to describe beads of any size but mainly those that were larger and had religious uses. Beads in general developed other names, frequently based on the material from which they were made or the size and shape of the finished bead. In France, almost all beads of the smaller size were referred to as perles, regardless of their composition. Most of the smaller beads were made of glass, although beads fashioned from gem stones, especially pearls, were also of the smaller sizes. It is these smaller beads, primarily those of glass, used to create flowers.

Major areas of glass production varied with the times. An area did not need to create huge quantities of beads for there to be an abundance available on the local market. Some examples of how beads could have become available to locals rather than exported would be:

  • The glass works produce a batch of beads which turn out to be the wrong color. The color of glass is based on mineral and chemical recipes so this could have been a frequent occurrence. The final color of glass isnt known until quite late in the process and if the beads were only produced as a result of an advance order then the color was probably also pre-ordered.
  • Because the glass works does not always know the final color, it could be the case that, in order to cover all the bases, several batches were made with slightly different mineral mixes so a range of colors were produced. The rejected colors would have been surplus.
  • The beads were produced with holes the wrong size for the chosen project, another occurrence that would not be known until the process was near complete.
  • There were too many beads produced.
  • The beads were cut incorrectly. Until the invention of cutting machines in the eighteenth century, cutting beads was like cutting carrots in the kitchen: some people can cut them uniformly but most people cant. Practice makes perfect and everyone has to start somewhere.
  • Because it only takes a small amount of glass to make a large number of beads, small amounts of glass left over from other projects could be made into beads rather than be discarded. (It was frequently the practice of glass works to give the leftover amounts to the workers who could do with it as they wished. The final product was usually some original creation or an object to teach or practice necessary skills to further ones career. Bead making using the drawn method is certainly a precise skill requiring practice.)

It should also be noted once the beads had been created the glass would not be worth reworking. It was also the case that, rather than sell finished beads, some glass works sold glass rods that would be cut to size and finished by the purchaser. These rods were also used for applied decoration on other glass objects, in much the same way wire-fed welding is done. Bohemia used to purchase canes of glass from Venice, facet the outside of the canes (creating a flat edge), and then cut them to size rather than produce all their own glass.

While the Venicians had been manufacturing and exporting beads since at least the thirteenth century, it wasnt until the seventeenth century that the glass men of England started to produce their own beads. A subscription was opened in London as early as 1621 for funds to produce beads for export to the colonies. Soon others followed and the middle and later years of the seventeenth century constitute one of the greatest periods of beadwork. Surviving examples date mainly to the 1640's thru the 1670's, the oldest appears to be small purse that dates to 1634.

In 1292 glass makers in the city of Venice were moved to the island of Murano and forbidden, on pain of death, to reveal their secrets or to emigrate. Bohemia and Moravia were settled in the fourteenth century by Venetians fleeing the Doges.17

The manufacture of glass was widespread throughout France during the medieval period. Glass objects were sold by mercers or at local markets. Traveling salesmen also carried them, or they could be purchased directly from the manufacturer in several cities. Precious stones were imitated in glass beginning in the thirteenth century, and Italian glass makers brought their unique skills to France in the sixteenth century. According to Le Vaillant de la Fieffe (1873), glass rods and opaque glass containing tin oxide that produced new and rich colors appeared at this time. Working principally with glass and bone, French beadmakers were known as patenotriers, and sold all kinds of rosaries and necklaces. Their work was recognized through written authorization from the king, accorded initially in 1569. Certain of the patenotriers prepared their own glass rods, which they then formed into beads.18

The French language makes a distinction between the art of the jeweler and the art of the gold smith. If an object was primarily of gold, with set stones and enameled design, than it was the work of the gold smith. Filigree, pearls and glass beads wrought into fanciful designs were the work of the jewelers. Jewelers could have produced beaded flowers, but they would have been far more ornate than the bead and wire flowers to which I am referring. Pearl and filigree headdresses from the late sixteenth century (German and Spanish) were of a floral nature and the product of jewelers. The art of beaded flowers can more accurately be classified as a Folk Art. A productive way to pass the time that could be performed by the average individual without the use of specialized tools or expensive materials. The only materials needed to create a beaded flower are beads and wire, and something with which to cut the wire. In fact, the list of requirements is far smaller than the list that one must fill in order to create pillow lace, another popular pastime in the late middle ages. In order to find the origins of beaded flowers it would be best to look in places where there were both wire and beads.

The three following stories all deal with different time periods, different geographical areas, and different uses for the final flowers. This is very helpful since it will also allow for a look at three different reasons for the creation of beaded flowers. There may be no final answer, no definitive proof in the end but that may be the reason so little has been written on the subject to date.


The first history I came across was in a paper written by Sharon R. May, entitled Scouting Out The Bead. She writes:

With the advent of steel needles and wire during the late thirteen hundreds, a new form of beadwork was created. The Germans, already known for their extravagant dagged sleeves and bell trimmings, put beads and wire together and created flowers. The first beaded flowers consisted of four to five loops of beads in a circle. Ferns and other foliage were constructed in a similar manner. Buds were formed by twisting one large loop.      She continues: As the period progressed, the flowers became more complex in structure. Loops were doubled and sometimes tripled. Crossover loops were the second elaboration on the original design. Beads on a wire were brought up the front of the loop and down the back to fill it in.19

This is really a two part story. The second part of the story, consisting of construction techniques, is probably true, as a progression from single loops to double, and then to crossover is natural. Each becomes slightly more complicated. Wherever and whenever the flowers started, this would be the likely pattern their development would take, though more likely in a matter of months rather than years since there is little difference in the construction and a noticeable difference in the finished look.

If the Germans did, in fact, start the trend they certainly would not have stopped at single looped flowers. The whole of the German mode in the thirteen hundreds was a much heavier look, Gothic in every way. The dainty flowers would have been overwhelmed and lost among the heavy dagged sleeves and thick furnishings of the time.

The idea of needles creates another problem. Steel needles were brought to Europe by the Moors and were being made in Nuremberg by the middle of the fourteenth century. Steel wire needles were made in England as an innovation in 1545 by a native of India whose daughter married an Englishman by the name of Greening. So while the needles were available in Germany, the needles were not used in making the flowers -- unless they were of the English variety, which is very doubtful, and would have lead to more embroidery techniques (as was the case in England when the needles were introduced there). In fact, this is the time period most early German Ecclesiastical vestments, rich in embroidered beadwork, date to. It is also true there was a change in how metal thread and wire was produced, but that had happened almost a full century before and the change (making the wire finer and less brittle) was already in widespread use by the time the needles were being produced in Nuremberg.20

German church stoles of the late twelfth century had panels richly embroidered with beads and seed pearls stitched onto parchment. The earliest documented records show glass production started in Germany in 1340 in Bischofsgrun, near Nuremberg, though the majority of the ecclesiastical bead-embroideries surviving from that area date just prior to 1330. With local glass production there would be an increase in available beads and would, therefore, offer an opportunity to create new uses for those beads. Glass production in the area must have been rather steady since Nuremberg is listed as the main center of glass production straight through to the seventeenth century, after the art had spread to other regions.

So the Germans had the beads and the wire was readily available. The need for artificial flowers or flowers year round also seems to be present. Moryson says everyone but "Virgines of inferiour sort, or Gentlewomen" who "weare a border of pearle," from the highest to the lowest, commonly "wear garlands of roses (which they call Crantzes)," worn only by women in winter; "but in Summertime men of the better sort weare them within doores, and men of the common sort weare them going abroade."21

Artificial flowers, prior to 1500, were fairly popular. Before hot houses, green houses, and the idea that bulbs could be forced, natural flowers could only be had for the short time they were actually in season. Jeweled flowers, and those of gold and other precious metals, have survived the ravages of time and are well represented in paintings. Silk flowers from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries still survive and, while quite rare, there are some surviving flowers made from beads, small and in the simplest of forms. I have no reason to believe far more beaded flowers of a more complicated construction existed but because they were of a fragile nature they could not stand the test of time. Dried flowers were also popular but they certainly did not hold up well to daily use. Circlets, along with garlands, wreaths, and coronals, were incredibly popular from the twelfth century through the seventeenth century in some areas. In Germany, more so than anywhere else, floral ornaments and designs seemed to have been preferred over everything else.

Such was also the case in Poland. One of Polands oldest chroniclers, a man by the name of Kosmas, lived and wrote during the time of Polands first king, Mieszko I (960 CE). When the king married a princess by the name of Dobrawa, he documented "she placed upon her head the wreath of a girl." Wearing a wreath on ones wedding day is a Polish tradition continued for over a thousand years. Until the mid sixteenth century, it was customary for young, unmarried girls to wear wreaths in their hair for almost all special occasions - going to church on Sunday and attending local dances and church fairs. The wreath was a symbol of the unmarried, virginal state. Just as clothes could identify a persons occupation and wealth, a wreath worn by a girl identified her as someone who was single and available for marriage. This was common practice among both the privileged nobility and common folk.22

The privileged could afford the very best. In Sicily there was recorded a silk cayula, a sort of coif, "with its little coronal of gold and little leaves."23 The 1380 inventory of Charles V of France lists a less costly coif "composed of a network of 409 gold wires, set with 100 red stones and 141 clusters of pearls, each cluster set on a pair of poppies."23 The same can be seen in sixteenth century German woodcuts. Womens headdresses are floral in appearance, and the few surviving examples resembling those of the woodcuts are covered in beads and contain floral motifs.24 In 1474 Gabrielle, Comtette de Montpensier had two coifs "one of plain gold wire and the other of gold wire shaped to make roses."25

Granted, most of the aforementioned ornaments are not made with beaded flowers, but they do show a trend in the decoration of head ornaments. Gold was an item few besides royalty could afford. Silver was what the upper classes wore, the middle class had brass, the peasantry had iron if anything at all. If fashion truly flows from the top down, then there undoubtably were glass items imitating gem stones, and if flowers were the item to be imitated, then there were likely to have been beaded flowers.

The bridal pair are still in many places treated, for the occasion, as royal persons. In the Byzantine Church both participants are crowned with wreaths, which are blessed, as are the rings, and the ceremony is called the Matrimonial Coronation. This usage seems to have existed formerly in the Western Church, at least amoung the Anglo-Saxons, and as late as the sixteenth century one finds an advertisement for fyne gay and straunge garlands, for Bryde and Brydegrome, some of which garlands were doubtless made of what Sir Thomas Browne calls Clinquant. There is comparatively little mention of particular flowers of other materials used, but roses are occasionally noted. Pliny reports garlands of artificial flowers, made of very thin sheets of horn, and colored. Later, silk was used, and even thin gold and silver leaf. The Brides crown may be a very elaborate goldsmiths work, with jewels in it, or a wreath, or a halo that Christ is apparently causing to shine forth for the first time.27

We do have a fifteenth century Italian, Umbrian portrait, again from the upper classes, showing a young woman with a coif of pearled flowers that appear to be on wire and of a three-dimensional nature. The same type of flowers can be seen on the very elaborate large wired collars and head pieces Queen Elizabeth wore right around 1600. Late period Spanish women are also seen in paintings, with highly bejeweled floral headdresses with flowers that do not look to be natural, combined with pearls and feathers. Some paintings clearly show beaded flowers though they are probably constructed of precious stone beads rather than glass. Those who were less fortunate and could not afford such fancy headgear still had the option to be married in style. In the sixteenth century one could hire or borrow a floral or jeweled wreath to be married in. In 1540 a "cerclett to marry maidens in" cost St. Margarets Church in Westminster, England, a total of £3-10-0.28 Though while the most common head ornament of the wedding day was floral, either natural or artificial, the records do not describe the cerclett beyond its intended use. Single women were married with their hair hanging loose, the circlet signaling they were single, and it was worn on the wedding day, the last day they were single, to be exchanged during the wedding ceremony for the wedding ring.

At the same time the church in England was purchasing a circlet to marry girls in, Jan Kochanowski (1530-1584) wrote in the Song of the Fourth Maiden "For whom have I, with tender care, Prepared this wreath of blossoms fair? For thee, my love, whom I adore As neer I loved a lad before." But fair blossoms are not necessarily fresh blossoms, and were lucky enough to know the circlet was floral in nature. Flowers were needed all year round so the girls turned to the use of artificial flowers "especially if the wedding was a winter one and fresh flowers were hard to come by. Following the addition of flowers, either real or artificial, were strings of pearls, gold and silver braiding that was entwined around the wreath."29

The garlands didnt need to made, they could be purchased in large cities from specialists such as the guild of flower chapeliers in Paris during the thirteenth century. The main focus of their duties consisted of weaving chaplets out of roses and other herbs and flowers, twisted onto or around a wire framework. In the off season they were probably occupied as gardeners and florists but is unknown what they did during the winter months. Other guilds of milliners were the groups who worked with felt, feathers, and cotton.30 While there is no direct connection between the milliners and beaded flowers there is a lot of commonality. The Library of Congress lists three books on French flowers, all published between 1949 and 1952. Of the two that I have seen, both state they are instructions for the manufacture of French milliners flowers, the primary use of these flowers being for use on hats. The book by Adrienne Douglass is subtitled Flowers for Millinery Purposes" and breaks the type of millinery flowers into five categories. The third group is classed as metal and lamè flowers, which she does not give instructions for but describes as "Tinsel, Sequin Sprays, Leaves and Sprays are usually featured in the metal class." The other groups are based on types of fabric and very much brought to mind the same distinctions the Milliners Guilds were making seven hundred years earlier.

Other items also had three dimensional flowers on them. These were more likely decorated with pieces of stamped gold that were much like little spangles, considering beaded flowers were fragile and more suited for head ornaments. In 1420 the Dauphin Charles, later Charles VII, in spite of the desperate financial straits of the monarchy, had a huque (short tunic) of red velvet brocaded with gold "gilt and worked with bezants and moving leaves."31 The Burgundian dukes had a love of finery also. In 1466 Johann van Rorhbach bought for his son Bernhard at Frankfort-on-the-Main for 145 florins a "riband of a hands breadth of samite or cloth-of-gold ... richly ornamented with fair pearls or blooming lilacs and with little bells wholly of silver and also gilt dangling from it, so that you can be heard coming from afar."32

But by far, the most likely use of ornamental flowers was in conjunction with a wedding ceremony. In some areas floral wreaths were given by the bride and groom to the guests. An Elizabethan traveler to Germany, Fynes Moyson, remarked in the 1590's that at wedding feasts "the young men on theire bare heads weare Krantzes; that is, Garlands of Roses, both in winter and sommer, presented them for a favour by the bryde at the dore of her house, as wee present gloves. The women likewise weare Garlands of Roses on their heades, and chayns about their neckes. And during the Feast the young men and virgins, for tokens of love, exchanged garlands, and the young men sometymes wore virgins chaynes."33

And Flowers were used in the ceremony itself by those of all social levels. The wedding of a bride of "middle rank" is described in History of Jack Newbury by Thomas Deloney in 1597.

The bride, being attired in a gown of sheeps russet and a kirtle of fine worsted, attired with abillement {head ornament} of gold and her hair as yellow as gold hanging down behind her, which was curiously combed and plaited, she was led to church between two sweet boys with bride laces and rosemary tied about their silken sleeves. There was fair bride-cup of silver gilt carried before her, wherein was a goodly branch of rosemary, gilded very fair, hung about with silken ribands of all colours. Musicians came next, then a groupe of maidens, some bearing great bride-cakes, others garlands of wheat finely gilded; and thus they passed into the church; and the bridegroom finely appareled, with the young men followed close behind.34

From the fourteenth to the early seventeenth century it was the custom for any bride to be married with her hair hanging down her back, the recognized symbol of virginity. Fashionable hair styles were discarded, even sometimes by the bridesmaids, but crowns, jewels and gold circlets might be worn by all ranks. "Married in her hair" was the expression used and is shown in many illustrations.35

Anne of Cleves on the day of her marriage to Henry VIII in 1540 was "attired in cloth of gold, embroidered with flowers in pearl, on her head a coronet of gold and precious stones set full of branches of rosemary. Her long yellow hair, no longer confined by a caul, hung over her shoulders.36

Stow, in his Survey of London, tells of the marriage of three daughters of a wealthy London scrivener, in 1560: "They were in their hair and goodly apparel set out with chains, pearls, and stones. Thus they went to Church all three, one after the other with three goodly caps garnished with laces, gilt and fine flowers and rosemary strewed for their home coming, and so to their fathers house, where a great dinner was prepared."

With or without beads, we know that wire was twisted into all kinds of flower shapes. Many examples of coiled wire from the late 14th and early 15th-century deposits may have come from headdresses, but this is uncertain since the pieces are fragmentary and wire of different gauges was used to decorate many types of artefact. One item merits attention here, although it does not appear to have been a hair accessory. This is a strip of delicate wire twisted into cinquefoils. The cinquefoils are arranged in pairs which were formed by twisting two lengths of very flexible narrow gauge wire. Sometimes a pair of cinquefoils was worked from the same length of wire and sometimes alternate wires were used. The finished piece probably would have been stitched onto cloth for decoration rather in the manner of a braid.37 The findings in London were analyzed for metal content and, of the 14 hair accessories, all of them were of a mainly brass alloy type. Of all the items analyzed (649 total) brass was the most common metal found, followed by gunmetal, tin, pewter, bronze, copper, silver, gold, and lead, in that order. All of these finds were from London and dated prior to 1450.38

Cinquefoils of gold were recorded on a beaver hat of the French royal accounts of 1351 and 1352. The hat was lined with ermine and was covered on the crown with a rose-bush whose stem was formed of twisted wire of or de chipre (a type of gold wire made in Genoa). Its leaves were either gold overworked with gold thread, or with large pearls and garnets, all its flowers of large pearls of price. At the sides were two large cinquefoils of gold, sewn with large pearls, garnets, and enamels. The hat had been made to be worn for the kings fool so it was probably quite a sight to behold.39


The second history, while it appears to be rather straight forward, is rather very confusing. Virginia Nathanson says in The Art of Making Bead Flowers and Bouquets,

 The art of bead-flower making originated many centuries ago with the peasants of France and northern Italy who tended the vineyards in the wine country. Because these people were idle during the winter months, enterprising glass manufacturers gave them homework - the making of glass beads that were to embroider the magnificent ball gowns and jackets worn by the members of the French court. Imperfect beads were rejected, but rather than discard the beads, the thrifty peasants made them into beaded flowers which alter and choir boys carried in church processionals for Easter and Christmas services. Some flowers were arranged into bridal and altar bouquets, and others into funeral wreaths. (No bibliography, no references given)

"Many centuries ago" probably relates to the Napoleonic era, as that was the time when the French had an abundance of beaded ball gowns and jackets. But we must ask how peasants are to actually make the beads? Were they given glass rods that only required cutting? For surely they would have been unable to form molten glass without a proper furnace and tools. And if imperfect beads were the only ones used for the beaded flowers then either the production level was very high, the peasants were terribly unskilled, or the standard the beads had to meet was very high. As far as the peasants being idle in the winter months, that is not entirely true. The winter months are most frequently occupied with the actual bottling of the wine, the repair and manufacture of wine caskets, not to mention all the other household tasks that were neglected through the growing and harvesting seasons. Unlike other types of farming, vineyards require a watchful eye throughout the growing season and the process of harvesting the grapes. So we are to believe peasants, who already had plenty to do, took on additional work in the production of beads, had time to sort the imperfect beads out of the batch, and then had time left over to create flower arrangements? It sounds as if story number two is actually the composite version of several different stories poorly woven together. For if the flowers originated at the time many centuries ago, there were few ball gowns and jackets that needed beading. If this is related to the Napoleon era then they were not created there, as we have examples dating much further back. I find it far more likely peasants would have done piecework (providing there was no local guild to complain about it) -- the actual stitching of beads onto the fabric, and in that way acquired the imperfect beads for use in making bead flowers.

In Italy it was probably the bead-stringers who first started the art of flower-making, but if it was the bead-stringers, then they would have to had done the stringing on wire rather than thread. This is very likely as the thread that was in use until the 1940's was used with rather long needles, 6 to 8 inches in length and rather small in diameter, a needle unlike any that was available in the Middle Ages. Since the idea was to string the beads as quickly as possible for export to foreign markets, it was certainly an option to have had the beads were strung on wire. Or they were strung on needles and those that were too small to fit over the eye of the needle were culled and, considered to be waste, were strung on wire (which explains why they werent used for embroidery projects) and made into flowers.

There are not many things that can be done with beads on wire. The wire can be used to string the beads so they can then be couched, they can be used in netting or plaiting for objects that need to keep their shape, and the wire can be twisted into flowers. However, if these beads were culled because they did not fit over the needle to be strung, then one could assume the holes would also be to small to fit more than one wire through, thus allowing for fewer options and making the French method the most likely method used to create flowers.

In Italy, specifically in Venice and the area immediately surrounding the city, women who strung beads for a meager wage were referred to as impiraperle or impiraressa. In Venice, making glass beads was a highly skilled urban craft started in the early Middle Ages and whose guild organization was particularly strict. Guild regulations allowed for the wives, daughters, and widows of its masters to participate in the first stage of bead production, the sorting of the glass canes according to size, and the last stage, stringing the beads together for sale or export.40 Over time there were far too many beads that needed to be strung and so other women who were not related to a guild master were hired to help with the workload. The practice became so wide spread, a French traveler in the mid-seventeenth century described the streets of Venice as "crowded with women of all social backgrounds engaged in stringing and making decorations with small bugles."41 The ornaments are not described but some time later a glass cane factory in Murano advertised its products as: "Venetian glass beads for trimming; chaplets and natives ornaments; pound-, seed-, aleppo-beads; ceylon-, maccà-, lamp-, mosaic-, and fancy-beads; gladstone; beaded articles: beaded flowers; fringes for lampshades; bags, necklaces."42

There is very little information dealing with the bead stringers prior to 1600 so it is not known for sure what the early beads were strung on for shipment. Later accounts prove the beads were strung on iron wire to make floral decorations and on cotton or silk threads to make common bunches. Natacha Wolters says "In the town of Venice in the 16th century, middle class and poor women modeled flowers made with beads [perles] strung on wire [fil métallique] to adorn churches during religious feasts, as well as the banquet tables and parade floats [les barques d'apparat.]"43 It is not known how the beads were acquired for these flowers or if it was just the bead stringers who were creating them. It is possible that, because middle class women were involved, beads were purchased and strung with the express purpose of creating the flowers for decoration.

Italian peasant women, whether they were sewing, weaving or lace-making, did not generally work for moneys sake; they worked for their families. They devoted spare moments to their own particular handiwork, not for the sake of bartering and money, but work done for its own sake. A new work introduced and taught in the convent by some foreign nun, or some little ornament brought from abroad by a returning emigrant, took their fancy and interested their village friends. In some places it fell on fruitful ground and flourished to perpetuity; in others it became modified by local influences until its original character was hardly recognizable; while in still other places it retained its foreign characteristics and remained unchanged through the years.44 This was certainly the case with pillow lace, another craft with uncertain origins that spread throughout Italy at approximately the same time beaded flowers were being produced in Venice. While we dont know where beaded flowers started, that they became a popular creative pastime in Venice may only have been a result of the massive quantity of beads available in the area.

The uses mentioned for beaded flowers, church decorations during feast days and parade floats, or festival barges, are both related to the Festa. An important element of popular life in Italy, some Festas are of very ancient origin and many are exceedingly picturesque. A Festa is a religious parade held on the feast day of a patron saint. Festa may be the origin of the word festival, since many of these parades were held in conjunction with local fairs. Festas became an integral part of the craft guilds, since every guild had a patron saint, as did most of the cities themselves, as well as many individuals and households. In Montevergine the lower classes vied with each other in turning out especially decorated carriages, in Viterbo a large statue was paraded through the streets on the Feast of Saint Rosa which takes place on September 3rd. In Nola they also had large statues and colossal structures of carved wood that were paraded in June. But not all Festas took place in the Summer months and it would be very interesting to know what the floats looked like for the feast of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of the glass beadmakers in Venice, held on January 17th.

Developments during the fifteenth century in the culture of flowers represented a reassertion of popular interests, but unless brought under control they often worried the church because of their pagan associations, which the church attempted either to ban or to Christianize. Just as churches were built on the sites of pagan worship, so herbs and flowers were literally christened, renamed, as Marys wort or Johns weed. London Pride, a variety of umbrosa, became Saint Patricks cabbage and Saint Johns wort had been called many things, including Rose of Sharon, before it was christianized. Even then the herbs had to be gathered while saying a prayer, just as many other actions in ordinary life were preceded by the making of the sign of a cross. Herbs, leaves and flowers continued to be important for medicinal and related purposes, whatever the church had to say. Their pragmatic use opened a window to the aesthetic as well as to a compromise with the popular. For there is an underlying tendency to elaborate rituals, to introduce material elements like flowers even into the worship of the invisible God, which is often more important than any actual continuity of social action.45

The flowers in these Catholic garlands are often provided with complex symbolic interpretations. The painting of The Virgin and Child in a Garland attributed to Frans Yvens and Ge'rard Seghers has been analyzed in the following terms:

The roses evoke the love of the Virgin, the lily, her purity, her triple virginity, and her majesty, the carnation, her perfume as well as the redemption. The orange blossom symbolizes the mystical engagement of Mary, such as the Fathers of the Church described it inspired by the Song of Songs. The chestnut again means purity (the fruit is preserved by its spikes from original sin) as well as chastity (chestnut and chastity have the same etymological root, casta). The fig, like the hazel-nut, is a symbol of salvation, of resurrection and of charity. Attribute of luxury in antiquity, the fig became the fruit of the Virgin, known as the new Eve. By the sacrifice of her son, Mary participated in the redemption. (Tapie and Joubert 1987)46

Chaplets are not mentioned in the Chansons de gestes and the earliest romances. They are present neither in Marie de France nor in Chre'tien de Troyes, although the latter describes the use of a floral crown made of gold and probably precious stones. Shortly afterwards, in his Roman de la Rose Jean Renart (better known as Guillaume de Dole) mentions chapel flowers in three places. While the Roman de la Rose of Renart does not specify the flowers in the chaplets, in the later Roman (c.1280) of Guillaume de Lorris, all are of roses, although by the time Jean de Meung completes the tale, the chaplet and the rose are less prominent. However, mention is made of flowers of silk and gold, as well as of floral crowns being worn in the communal tub (Planche 1987)47

By the sixteenth century, the chaplets have disappeared and the word chapeau takes on another meaning. The use of cloth head coverings and of peacock and ostrich feathers took the place of flowers. However, floral crowns are used by communicants, for the rosieres, at marriages where orange blossoms replaced the rose, while fresh flowers decorated the walls of churches and banquet tables. For many other purposes the crown and the garland gave way to the bouquet, not only in the realm of art (the flower painting) and in literature (the posy and the nosegay), but also in practice, the practice of giving and in the associated matter of house decoration. The shift from the crown to bouquet was consistent with early Christian thoughts about the crown as well as with the new ideas of sixteenth-century reformers, though this was only one reason for the change.48


The last history is by Wasley and Harris, who write in Bead Design:

In the thirteenth century a form of prayer using a string of beads was instituted by St. Dominic. The string, called a rosary, consisted at that time of 15 units of beads. Each unit contained 10 small beads, preceded by one larger one. A prayer was recited at every bead. Because of the length of the original rosary, it became customary to pay someone, usually a resident of the almshouse, to recite the prayers. These people were referred to as bede women (or men), and it was they who made the first bead flowers. Horsehair and human hair were used for stringing. The craft was handed down through the centuries and came to be associated with the church and its decorations. (No bibliography, no references given)

In the thirteenth century St. Dominic started a religious brotherhood, founded on the principle of constant prayer and devotion. The rosary still did not have a set number of units, and wasnt even referred to as a rosary yet nor was it instituted by St. Dominic, though he did do a great deal to spread the use of prayer beads. Ive never tried to use horsehair but I had bad results trying to make a flower with beads and human hair. I find it hard to believe horse hair would be much different although it is much stiffer. We do know the craft has been strongly associated with the church throughout the years but no one really knows why.

As for the beads themselves, rosary beads in the Middle Ages were far larger than those in use today, but flower beads were quite small. During the early fourteenth century, the same word, paternostri, was used in Venice to mean both smaller worry beads and beads made of glass. Bede men and women were given beads to count their prayers on, more so for show than for use, as these people were frequently hired to fill out the ranks of the funeral procession. They, along with residents of the almshouses, were given mourning robes, rosaries, candles, anything that would benefit the funeral procession. Many of them were also paid to participate, and in addition to being able to keep the robes, they were often invited to the funeral banquet.

In France, the earliest known beaded flowers were associated with the church, and until relatively recently were used for funeral wreaths and grave decorations. It is easy to understand why we have no surviving examples of these items, as they were created and then placed out doors where the elements of nature would ravage them and leave only a small pile of beads after a year or two. These beads were then most likely recycled and used in other wreaths.

Perhaps the best period examples of these flowers are found on the Paradise gardens created in the convents around 1480. Paradise gardens were constructed in the shape of kneelers, with the flowers on the vertical rise between the hand rest and the base, and were used by nuns when they took their vows. They may each have been created by the individual nun who used the Paradise garden to enforce the idea that taking a vow to serve God was to step into the garden of heaven. Originally there was a series of 24 Paradise gardens, though only three, possibly four, of them survive today. The museum holding three of them (the fourth was at the abbey Frauenwörth in Chiemsee) no longer displays them because of their most fragile nature. It seems at some point prior to the museum obtaining them, the entire group of them was picked apart so enough pieces in good condition could be gathered to put together a few complete gardens, for even in their semi-preserved state, much of the material was destroyed by time.

The gardens are quite interesting and visually very stunning. They are comprised mainly of silk thread and wire flowers attached by their stems to a backing of burlap-like fabric covered with brass foil. Each of the gardens contains a box at the base in which a holy relic was kept. In their present state they are missing much of the gold and silver foils and the small devotional pieces that once comprised a large portion of the gardens, of which only one remains. Of the remaining flowers there are some that incorporate small coral beads and silver tinsel. There is no reason to believe beaded flowers were not a part of these gardens but none can be seen on them in their present state.

The paradise gardens are just one place where these artistic flowers can be seen. Simularly manufactured flowers are known to exist in the Lower Saxony and Westphalia areas of Germany and in Belgium.49 In the convent at Melcheln, there are found many glass shrines full of art flowers, figures and Reliquaries. The nuns in Mecheln at one time manufactured so many of these flowers they became a well-known exporter, driving out the smaller arts. In the southern regions of the Netherlands, shrines equipped with these art flowers are called Besloten Hofjes or closed gardens. On the one hand it was a reference to the convent itself and on the other, in a more transcendental sense, on the idea of the closed garden as being an allegory for the divinity of the Virgin Mary. Many of the mystical devotions of the nuns in the late Middle Ages were connected with the closed garden, with heaven, and with a picture of their future paradises, or heavenly rewards. The flowers were a reminder of the Paradise to come and still served as devotions to those holy ones surrounding Christ whose intercession the nuns sought.

Devotional statues from the same time period also utilize these art flowers and some also show the use of beaded flowers. The statues, most of which are wooden statues of the infant Christ, were dressed by the nuns in the cloisters as part of their devotional exercises, possibly the same exercises that produced the Paradise gardens. One of these statues, which dates to 1500 and currently resides at the Schwerrin Museum in Germany, has a hat that is covered in small bead flowers and other dangling bits with much gold. Another statue, this one from the St. Andreas cloister in Switzerland, is much more ornate and also shows a preference for beaded flowers on the headpiece though this statue dates to the early fifteenth century.50 It could be that any beaded flowers found on the Paradise gardens were recycled, as they were most likely constructed with small pearls. Even if the medium had been glass beads, if there were enough of the beads, they were probably disassembled for use in other projects.

So few of these devotional items survive that anything said about them can at best contain some speculation. Perhaps the best evidence beaded flowers were a part of the devotional exercises comes from a manuscript, written in yet another convent at about the same time the Paradise gardens and devotional statues were created. The Dominican nuns at the convent in Alsace possessed a manuscript describing in detail a devotional exercise whereby a floral crown is created for Saint Barbara, a crown where each flower represents one of the many virtues of the saint. The manuscript spells out exactly how many prayers are needed to create several different varieties and colors of flowers.51 For example, a daisy requires one hundred Hail Marys to complete, a periwinkle needs thirty Our Fathers for its completion. But were these flowers merely imaginary, as flowers created from prayers could not be seen in this world? Or were the flowers created from prayer beads, like an artistic rosary, the numbers being a pattern of sorts, a measurement for size like the number of yards of fabric needed for a particular type of gown? The problem in deciding which example is correct is very much dependant on the language that was used.

The English word bead comes from the word bede, which means prayer. Pasternosters were people who made beads for rosaries, beads that in French were referred to as pater nosters. It is also the Latin name of the Lords Prayer (or the Our Father). The very word Rosary derives from rosireum, the name for a rose garden. "Thirty Our Father prayers" could easily be written in exactly the same way one would have written "thirty beads the size of small worry beads." Both could have been proper interpretation for "thirty Pasternoster bedes." A hundred Hail Marys is the same as a "hundred Ave bedes". One would have to find the actual definition, real or imaginary, in the descriptions of how the exercise was conducted or what became of the flowers after they were completed. Was the garland created of the many varieties of flowers mentioned and then put on the statue of Saint Barbara? Or was a new garland prayed into existence every day or week? In either likelihood, the more the exercise spread to other people, the more likely it becomes someone would interpret the entire exercise in a different manner than it was originally written. Imaginary flowers become real when one needs more concrete proof prayers were said, the flowers existed. Imaginary flowers were for people with imaginations, or for those who didnt have the time, the beads, or the know-how to create actual prayer flowers. At some time in the spread of these devotional exercises someone surely had to have misunderstood the idea and actually went out and created actual flowers, if they hadnt been actual to start with.

According to Thomas Lentes, who has written several articles on piety and the related acts of counting, "prayers said on earth, the faithful hoped, would become ornaments for the saints in the hereafter." And "apart from the wreaths of roses, other serial prayers were intended to produce crowns, entire garments, necklaces, mantle fasteners, paradise gardens, and many other things in honor of the saints."52 We have already seen there were actual wreaths of roses, crowns, and paradise gardens and if a bead and a prayer are interchangeable (a physical bead, a spiritual prayer), then certainly there were flowers created from beads just as there were flowers created from prayers.

The connection between a string of beads and roses has never been clear though the Roman Catholic rosary has a rich historical relationship with rose garlands and rose gardens. In a Middle Low German code of Laws from 1220-35 the beads used for keeping track of prayers are called a "zapel" which means chaplet or corona.53 In contemporary Italy, a coronario makes both flower wreaths for funerals and prayer beads.54 And while the association began in the twelfth century, it wasnt until the cult of Mary, especially during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, that the rose, rose-bush, rose-garden, and rose-garland were used, with almost monotonous persistence, in symbolism surrounding the Virgin Mary, often with some allusion to the Marian Psalter, and then gradually with ever more explicit reference to the beads themselves. By 1500 it is often the rosary represented as a rosetree, bearing in its branches medallions, like fruit or Christmas tree ornaments, depicting scenes of the fifteen Mysteries.55

In Renaissance art, a garland of Roses is often an allusion to the rosary of the Blessed Virgin. Wreaths of roses worn by angels, saints, or the human souls who have entered into heavenly bliss, are indicative of heavenly joy. In accordance with a very ancient custom dating as far back as the time of Pope Gregory I, the sending of a golden rose by the Pope to people of distinction is a symbol of special papal benediction.56

It is clear however that devotional beads predated the Hail Mary. Among earlier prayers were repetitions of the Our Father from which the beads derived the popular name Paternoster beads, or simply paternosters. It wasnt until the founding of the first rosary confraternity, established by Jakob Sprenger in Cologne on September 8, 1475, that the rosary became extremely popular among the masses. Members could choose any one of several ways of reciting their prayers, and it was, in part, because of this flexibility and the absence of punitive regulations that caused the rosary confraternities to become so widespread. A look at the contents of prayer books between about 1475 and 1550 reveals a bewildering array of rosaries, forms with 200, 165, 150, 93, 63, 33, 12, and as few as 5 meditations. The version that won out and was made official by papal proclamation in 1569 was a scaled-down set of fifteen meditations on the events on the life of Jesus. The current rosary is one third of a full rosary and so needs to be said three times to complete one full set of meditations.

In early religious writings the soul is depicted as "a paradise" but later medieval texts more often refer to the soul as a garden. If the soul is a garden then the trees and flowers found within are meant to represent the virtues to be cultivated there. Each different flower, each color, has a different meaning, just as the nosegays popular at the same time had different meanings for each of the flowers within. When the garden has become the soul - or the soul a rose garden - the image of picking spiritual flowers from it to offer to the Virgin, or a saint, is a logical step. From there it is only a small step to the concept of the rosary.

By 1482, just seven years after its inception, at least 100,000 people had joined the rosary confraternity. It is probable most members used some kind of device for keeping track of their prayers, but even if only a portion of them used beads for counting then the result would have been an increase in demand for what was already an item of medieval "mass merchandise" and a flourishing business.57 Beadmakers are listed in the Livre des Métiers (Book of Trades, 1268), divided according to the materials they specialized in, the same way the milliners guilds were divided. Beads made up a significant portion of the items recorded in the account books of the Ulm merchant Ott Ruland, from 1446 to 1462, who also dealt in helmets, daggers, pigs, horses, wines, and oats.58 As a cottage industry, the manufacture of beads offered the possibility of a viable trade for women. Gerlind Ritz cites the example of a widow in Nuremberg who, in 1606 made and sold 10,000 glass beads in the form of blackberries.59

The real key to the flowers, though, are the bede men and women, the residents of the alms houses who received benefits from saying prayers for others. Prayers for the soul of the departed, in pre-Reformation times, were purchased by those who could afford it by the employment of Bedesmen and Bedeswomen. These were recipients of the deceaseds charity, sometimes inmates of the almshouses, who generally walked in the funeral procession, sometimes carrying their beads but always provided with mourning garb.60 On other occasions they were just paid to say prayers.

But how did they prove the prayers had been said? If handed a small bag of beads and asked to "say this many number of prayers" they would have returned the bags worth of beads all nicely strung, on wire, twisted into small loops of ten or twenty beads each, looking much like a flower. These flowers, physical proof the prayers had been said, could then be left on the grave so others would know, by the sight of it, that this soul was well provided for and would be long remembered. After all, it was common for prayers to be counted by moving a pebble from one pile to another, and there would be almost no difference between that method (used by those who did not have a prayer strand) and the idea of placing a bead on a wire. The advantage to using beads and wire is that when the prayers were finished one was left with flowers rather than another pile of pebbles.

Funeral wreaths and grave markers created entirely of beads had for a long time been extremely common in Catholic cemeteries throughout France. The precise description Emile Zola made about everyday life of the second half of the 1800's shows us their use was incredibly wide spread in his day.

Indeed, under the gray sky of this morning of November, in the penetrating shudder of the soft wind, the low graves, charged with garlands and wreaths of beads, in a variety of shades, with a charming delicacy. There were some totally white, and there were some totally black, depending on the beads; and this opposition shined softly, in the middle of the pale greenery of dwarf trees. On those loans of five years the families exhausted their worship; it was a heap, a blossoming that the recent day of the Dead spread just in its new. Only the natural flowers, in between their paper ruff, were already faded. Some wreaths of immortal yellow burst like freshly chiseled gold. But there werent just beads, a stream of beads hides the inscriptions, covering the stones and the surrounding areas with forms of hearts, scallops, medallions, beads that framed little items preserved under glass; thoughts, embraced hands, knots of satin, pictures of women, some yellowed pictures of houses and families, some poor faces, ugly and nasty, with their awkward smiles.61

In France the light-hearted Parisians would lunch at the cemetery each year, on the occasion of the feast of the dead, and decorate the graves of his ancestors.62 Those crowns, which can still be found in small cemeteries of Savoy, were fabricated in huge numbers at workshops in Paris and in the Province, but they were made also by prisoners of the penal colony of Brest until 1930. Were those works with pearls destined to calm down the prisoners? We may believe it when we see the long beaded grass snakes Turkish prisoners created when they were shut up on the island of Man during World War I. They made wonderful pieces of art. In the actual Turkish jails, condemned still make beaded pockets, wallets and religious or laic pendants to be suspended in cars or trucks to push away the danger, and we see in the countryside, some countrywomen stitching long embroideries of beaded and sequined lace for their shawl.63

B. Puckle suggests that funeral wreaths were originally "an offering to the dead rather than a condolence for the living - and were even seen as another of his needs." In confirmation he quotes a statement of Sir Walter Besants that in Yorkshire it was still the custom (late nineteenth century) to bury in the churchyard a girls funeral garland; further, it would be unlucky to remove even a fragment of its ribbon before it was thus handed over.64

Beaded flowers, combining prayers with a traditional funeral accruement, was probably the result of the fifteenth century idea of Indulgences, the idea one could buy their loved ones out of purgatory, a place of waiting between heaven and hell. Indulgences were in the form of proclamations, "read this book of prayers and get 645 years off time in purgatory", a form of time-off-for-good-behavior.

Punckle says in Funeral Customs, (in reference to prayers for the dead) "The Catholic view was defined by the council of Trent, viz., That there is a purgatory and that souls there detained are assisted by the suffrages of the Faithful, but especially by the most acceptable sacrifice at the alter (i.e. the mass).65 He continues "In pre-Reformation days this doctrine was responsible for the erection of many churches, the foundations of many charities and the support of the chantry and the chantry priest. The chantry chapels were built as a memorial of the founder, where the priest frequently said various offices for the dead and celebrated a special Mass on the anniversaries of the founder and his family, and distributed alms to the poor."

There were in England about two thousand chantries, founded chiefly in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, which were all despoiled by Henry VIII and Edward VI at the Reformation, on the grounds that they were devoted to superstitious purposes. Much of the wealth was the property of the poor, left to them by pious benefactors.66

We can see by the documented cases of exhumations taking place in the Middle Ages, most involving saints, the connection between flowers and the grave. Saint Cecilia who died in 177 and is buried in Rome, was exhumed in 1599 at which time the body was on view for one full month and then interred beneath the alter on her feast day, November 22. It was recorded that "the casket of the saint was placed in the hall of the basilica. The platform and casket were covered with gold embroidered silk drapery, and the room was magnificently decorated with candelabras, handsome lamps, and flowers of silver and gold."67

Saint Agatha who died in 251 CE whose body was moved several times, the last time in the 12th century when it was returned to Catania, in Italy. "The body is now preserved on different reliquaries. The arms, legs, and breasts are preserved in a glass case. The skull and principal relics are at Catania, enclosed in an effigy on which rests a costly jeweled crown. The reliquary consists of the figure of the Saint from the head to the waist and is situated in an upright position. The figure is entirely covered with precious gems, rings, bracelets, pins, chains, and jeweled flowers and crosses donated by her grateful clients whose lives, through her intercession, have been saved from frequent eruptions of Mount Etna, Europes largest and most active volcano."68 The jeweled reliquary is exposed for public veneration on three occasions during the year February 5th and 12th, and August 17th.

Blessed Sibyllina Biscossi who dates to 1287-1367 who is buried in Pavia, Italy and her beatification was confirmed in 1853 at which time the body was moved to a more appropriate location. The hands of the relic hold a rosary and beautiful artificial flowers, and the head is covered with a garland of blossoms.69

It should also be noted that the majority of the saints buried in England have been lost or destroyed during the Protestant Reformation on the orders of King Henry VIII whose treasury was much enhanced because of Henrys desire to make sure the people where no longer confused with the idolatry caused by the worship or intersession of the saints. Reliquaries were the recipients of many objects of devotion (votive offerings) so much so that just one yielded over 20,000 items of gold or silver.

It is said of these votive offerings that "in every period, the nature of the offerings - made by kings, nobles, and common people - varied from the most sophisticated to the most simple, from objects made of the humblest materials to those made of the most precious. (The clergy, we might note, always showed a marked preference for the latter; but the practice of ex-votos shows the lasting character of the former.) Prisoners who had invoked St. Foy to deliver them - for it was one of her specialties to deliver captives - would bring their chains to her at Conques. And these chains were used in the twelfth century to forge the magnificent grills of the abbey church. For the most part, however, offerings were articles of value - precious textiles, goldsmithery - or money. Among the offerings we must distinguish between pieces made especially for the Treasury - votive crowns, which may have been the origin of the crown on the statue of St. Foy, or that of the Abbey of Le Paraclet in the thirteenth century; reliquaries, crosses, and precious objects that were mainly secular in character."70

As a result of these votive offerings a number of fourteenth and fifteenth century reliquaries are found to be embellished with multi-colored silk-wire flowers, often with seed pearls and beads threaded onto them. An example is the fifteenth century reliquary crown of St. Kunigunde in Bamburg cathedral, West Germany, and the ritual cushions known as paradise gardens for nuns taking their vows. By the sixteenth century similar wire decoration was sometimes used on bookcovers and other ornamental items.71


That concludes our look at the three primary histories regarding how the flowers were started. The last two are clearly of a religious nature, begun by laity for the beautification of the church. I find none of the three to be believable in and of themselves. The problem with the first story, about the German start, is that the Germans were into much heavier displays of jewelry and other ornaments until later in time. I find it hard to believe that they invented the delicate flowers. I have a tendency to believe the french wine story except that I doubt that they were making the beads for ball gowns unless the date goes more to the Napoleonic era. As for the bede woman, I have not tried to make flowers on horse hair but I find that it is not too terribly stiff and would be difficult to form into flowers. However I do believe that the flowers were originally some offshoot of a devotional form. With the devotion to Mary and the association to roses I find this story the most believable.

The rosary was a materialized memory, in fact a kind of writing, which is an art that evolved in the same way that a prayer materialized into a bead: an invisible value is registered symbolically in something material, after which the symbolic structure takes on a life of its own and may even become machinery.72 Before the rosary was set into its current form in 1569, and probably for some time past that date, a prayer and a bead were interchangeable. While no one today ever thinks to question why the letters of the alphabet are formed as they are, during the fifteenth and most of the sixteenth centuries few people (if anyone) thought to question the form and shape of the rosary. Prayers said and then twisted into the shape of flowers were no different than prayers said on one continuous circle of beads. A circle, the rosary, is fine if your keeping track of your own prayers because it is re-useable, flowers are preferred if your paying someone to say the prayers for you. Seeing the flowers, holding them in your hands, is your proof that you got the prayers you paid for. The fact that beaded flowers survive to this day is owed only to their beauty and not their value in prayers.


  1. Blair, Dorothy The History of Japanese Glass Kodansha International and The Corning Museum of Glass, New York 1973. Plate 89.
  2. Though a great number of these headdresses date to the eighteenth century there are some surviving that date earlier. The same type of headdresses were also in place in India. Most were used for wedding ceremonies, a time when one would naturally want a more elaborate head piece.
  3. Davenport, Millia The Book of Costume Crown Publishers, Inc., New York 1948. Plate 1047.
  4. Blair, Dorothy The History of Japanese Glass Kodansha International and The Corning Museum of Glass, New York 1973. Plate 11.
  5. Prosperity, Reverence and Protection: An Introduction to Asian Beadwork by Valerie Hector in Beads: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers 1995 Volume 7. Figure 3.
  6. For a detailed description of these stitches and instruction, including patterns, consult Carol Wilcox Wells Creative Bead Weaving. This book is easy to understand, well illustrated, and is the best book I have seen on the subject.
  7. The actual date of the panel cannot be determined with great certainty because it was found stored in a box that had an inscription that was attributed to 1038. The beadwork is not thought to be that old, merely stored in a much older box. For the complete argument see Dorothy Blair The History of Japanese Glass, Plate 131.
  8. The description that accompanies the picture is of no help in determining the construction of the beadwork, aside from the fact that it is written in German, it merely says that there were, at one time, many more beads and probably metal plaques. See Cord Meckseper Stadt im Wandel: Kunst und Kultur des Bürgertums in Norddeutschland 1150-1650 Item 1021, Page 1161.
  9. The Field Museum exhibit "Kremlin Gold" Chicago, Il. January 2001. All items in the exhibit were on loan from the Kremlin Museum in the Soviet Republic.
  10. While bead lace was never very popular in the United States, it is still widely used on the Asian Continent. For an in-depth look at the bead laces of the Straits Chinese see Wing Meng Ho Straits Chinese Beadwork & Embroidery: A Collectors Guide. The beadwork is the product of a group of people descendant from Chinese merchants who settled in the area and married local Christian women in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In addition to bead lace they used square stitch and netting.
  11. Lightbown, Ronald W. Mediaeval European Jewellery The Victoria & Albert Museum, London 1992. Page 374. The author was quoting the Arcipreste of Talavera, chaplain to King Jaun II of Castile. He was describing the attire of the well dressed.
  12. As quoted in Prosperity, Reverence and Protection: An Introduction to Asian Beadwork by Valerie Hector in Beads: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers 1995 Volume 7, Pages 5-7.
  13. Rudenko, Sergei I. Frozen Tombs of Siberia: The Pazyryk Burials of Iron Age Horsemen translated by M. W. Thompson. University of California Press, CA 1970. The book is an archaeological description of the findings in a group of graves discovered in the early twentieth century. The items described are pictured in black and white photos and currently reside in the Hermitage Museum in the Soviet Republic. The graves also contained what are thought to be the earliest surviving examples of both Persian and Chinese textiles. Because the graves remained frozen year round, the items inside were very well preserved.
  14. A great number of them can be seen in full color pictures in the first two volumes of Cord Meckseper Stadt im Wandel: Kunst und Kultur des Bürgertums in Norddeutschland 1150-1650. The books contain pictures of many small household items and include about a dozen items of bead embroidery all of which are religious in nature.
  15. Lightbown, Ronald W. Mediaeval European Jewellery The Victoria & Albert Museum, London 1992 Page 361
  16. Hughes, Therle English Domestic Needlework Abby Fine Arts, London (no date given) Pages 182-183.
  17. Coles, Janet and Budwig, Robert The Book of Beads Simon & Schuster, New York 1990. Page 19.
  18. French Beadmaking: An Historical Perspective Emphasizing the 19th and 20th Centuries Marie-José Opper and Howard Opper Beads; Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers 1991 Volume 3 T & H Printers Ltd., Ontario Canada 1992. Page 47.
  19. Page 13. Ms Mays bibliography is 136 items long and the paper is unfooted.
  20. The only other change in this time period was the invention of the blast furnace in the late fourteenth century, which allowed iron to become molten and then poured into molds. While the blast furnace was a major development for metal workers, it probably wasnt widely used until some time later.Campbell, Marian An Introduction to Ironwork The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England 1985. Page 5. This is a wonderful little book which has some nice pictures of iron work, including a wrought iron Chandelier suspension-rod with many flowers, English late sixteenth century.
  21. Davenport, Millia The Book of Costume Crown Publishers, New York 1948. Page 388. Quoted in relation to a German picture dated 1514, in which the subject is pictured with a wreath of light and dark carnations.
  22. Hodorowicz Knab, Sophie Polish Wedding Customs & Traditions Hippocrene Books, New York 1997. Page 37.
  23. Lightbown, Ronald W. Mediaeval European Jewellery The Victoria & Albert Museum, London 1992. Page 131.
  24. Ibid., page 365.
  25. Jargstorf, Sibylle Glass Beads From Europe Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Pennsylvania 1991 various pages.
  26. Lightbown, Ronald W. Mediaeval European Jewellery The Victoria & Albert Museum, London 1992. Page 365.
  27. Wilkins, Eithne The Rose Garden Game: The Symbolic Background to the European Prayer-Beads Victor Gollancz Ltd., London 1969. Page 153.
  28. Ginsburg, Madeleine The Hat-Trends and Traditions Barrons Publishing 1990. Page 111.
  29. Ibid., page 43.
  30. Réglemens sur Les Arts Et Métiers De Paris Rédigés Au XIII Siécle G. B. Depping, Paris 1837. Pages 246-254
  31. Lightbown, Ronald W. Mediaeval European Jewellery The Victoria & Albert Museum, London 1992. Page 371.
  32. Ibid., page 341.
  33. Ibid., page 119.
  34. Cunnington, Phillis and Lucas, Catherine Costume for Births, Marriages, and Deaths Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., New York 1972. Page 79.
  35. Ibid., page 92.
  36. (Archaeologia, XXVII, p.70. The Loseley MSS. ed. by A.J.Kempe)
  37. Egan, Geoff and Pritchard, Frances Dress Accessories c1150-c1450 HMSO Publications, London England 1991. Page 296.
  38. Ibid., Page 394.
  39. Lightbown, Ronald W. Mediaeval European Jewellery The Victoria & Albert Museum, London 1992. Page 363.
  40. Trivellato, Francesca Out of Womens Hands: Notes on Venetian Glass Beads, Female Labour and International Trades In Beads and Beadmakers edited by Lidia D. Sciama and Joanne B. Eicher, Berg, New York 1998. Page 51
  41. Ibid., page 54. Quoted from Poullet, le Sieur Nouvelles relations du Levant Paris 1668 chez Louis Billaine. Bugles are beads that are long and narrow, generally the same size as standard seed beads only cut to be longer.
  42. Ibid., page 54. The author does not say where this quote is from but it appears to date to right around 1806.
  43. Wolters, Natacha Les Perles Syros, Paris France 1996. Page 45.
  44. Ricci, Elisa Womens Crafts In Peasant Art in Italy edited by Charles Holmes, The Studio Ltd., London 1913. Page 17
  45. Goody, Jack The Culture of Flowers Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993. Page 121
  46. Ibid., page 175
  47. Goody, Jack The Culture of Flowers Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993. Page 158, footnote 137
  48. Goody, Jack The Culture of Flowers Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993. Page 167
  49. The cities listed are: Walsrode, Rheine, Köln, Kalkar, Xanten, and Arras in Germany. Antwerp, Diest, Herentals, Kontich, and Balen-Neet in Belgium. The collection in Mecheln is said to be very good. See Cord Meckseper Stadt im Wandel: Kunst und Kultur des Bürgertums in Norddeutschland 1150-1650 Page 478.
  50. The statue itself dates to the fourteenth century while the majority of the ornaments on the dress date from the early thirteenth to the mid fifteenth centuries. The exact date of the headdress was not given though it appears to predate the other examples. See Ronald W. Lightbown Mediaeval European Jewellery Pages 365-6 and figure 208 and plate 116.
  51. Berlin, SBPK, Ms. germ. oct. 54, folios. 335r.-39v.
  52. Unfortunately, to date, only one of his articles has been translated to English. Thomas Lentes Counting Piety in the Late Middle Ages can be found in Ordering Medieval Society edited by Bernhard Jussen, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001. Pages 55-91.
  53. Cited in Beissel, Geschichte, 239. The Sachsenspiegel 1.24.3 states that a widow may keep "rings and bracelets, chaplets, psalters, and all books that pertain to the divine service," (ed. Karl A. Eckhardt, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Fontes Iuris Germanici Antiqui n.s., 2nd ed. Göttingen, Musterschmidt 1955 1:91)
  54. Dubin, Lois Sherr The History of Beads Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers. New York 1987. Page 81.
  55. Wilkins, Eithne The Rose Garden Game: The Symbolic Background to the European Prayer-Beads Victor Gollancz Ltd., London 1969. Page 106.
  56. Ferguson, George Signs and Symbols in Christian Art Oxford University Press, New York 1959.
  57. Gislind Ritz, Der Rosenkranz, in 500 Jahre Rosenkranz page 76. Reprinted in Stories of The Rose
  58. Konrad D. Hassler, ed. Ott Rulands Handlungsbuch, Bibliothek des Literarischen Vereins in Stuttgart 1 (Stuttgart, 1843), vii and 29: cited in Esser, Zur Archäologie, 50-51.
  59. Gislind Ritz, Der Rosenkranz, in 500 Jahre Rosenkranz page 77. Reprinted in Stories of The Rose
  60. Cunnington, Phillis and Lucas, Catherine Costume for Births, Marriages, and Deaths Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., New York 1972. Page 143.
  61. Wolters, Natacha Les Perles Syros, Paris France 1996. Pages 45-46.
  62. Punckle, Bertram S. Funeral Customs: Their Origin and Development T. Werner Laurie Ltd., London 1926. Page 247.
  63. Wolters, Natacha Les Perles Syros, Paris France 1996. Page 46.
  64. Goody, Jack The Culture of Flowers Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993. Page 137.
  65. Puckle, Bertram S. Funeral Customs: Their Origin and Development T. Werner Laurie Ltd., London 1926. Page 242-3
  66. P. H. Ditchfield The Old-time Parson as sighted by Bertram S. Puckle.
  67. Cruz, Joan Carroll The Incorruptibles Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford Illinois 1977. Pages 43-46. The author quotes this from Life of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr. Rev. Prosper Gueranger, Abbe de Solesmes, P.J. Kennedy & sons, New York, page 283.
  68. Cruz, Joan Carroll The Incorruptibles Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford Illinois 1977. Page s 47-48.
  69. Ibid, pages 117-118. It doesnt state if these flowers are from the original grave, nor the material construction.
  70. Taralon, Jean Treasures of The Churches of France George Brazillerer, Inc., New York 1966. Page 11.
  71. Egan, Geoff and Pritchard, Frances Dress Accessories c1150-c1450 HMSO Publications, London England 1991. Page 294.
  72. Wilkins, Eithne The Rose Garden Game: The Symbolic Background to the European Prayer-Beads Victor Gollancz Ltd., London 1969. Page 202.

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