The Chickasaw Nation
Present day site of Tchichatala De Crenay 1733, The Territory Between the Chattahoochee and Mississippi Rivers Woodcut Bust of a Chickasaw Warrior by Bernard Romans
The Chickasaw Villages Dating the Chickasaw Beads Chickasaw Villages Defined by Bead Dating


Glass Trade Beads

Database Fields: Artifacts

Database Fields: Glass Beads

Glass Bead Descriptions

Glass Bead Database

Glass Bead Sequence
A Beginning

Major Bead Types/Varieties
Glass Bead Chronology - Start/Finish

Glass Bead Sequence
Major Bead Fields

Glass Bead Sequence
Minor Bead Fields

Glass Bead Sequence
Major & Minor Glass Bead Fields

Glass Bead Chronology
An End, A Beginning

Glass Bead Chronology

Other Artifacts - Dating

Beads as Heirlooms

Bead Dating Conclusions

Other Factors

Paper 2 Figures

Paper 2 Tables

Paper 2 References

Glass Bead Descriptions

The Chickasaw glass bead typology (types/varieties) shown on Table 1 is described below. Click on the bead photo for a larger view.


IA/IIIA XL type is tubular in shape and has simple construction (compound only if there was a thin clear glass coating on the exterior which none of these beads exhibited). The ends or all of this type are rough and unpolished. There are no surface decorations. All of the beads are extra large exceeding 20 mm in length and having a diameter of 3-5 mm. All of these beads are opaque with white being the prevalent color, but burgundy and black also occur. This bead type is distinguished from IA/IIIA Opaque by size.

IA/IIIA Translucent

IA/IIIA Translucent type is tubular in shape and simple in construction (compound only if there was a thin clear glass coating on the exterior which none of these beads exhibited) with ends that appear uneven but more tumbled than the IA/IIIA XL. There are no surface decorations. Most of these beads are 6-10 mm in length and 3 mm in diameter. All of these beads are translucent with clear and navy blue being the dominant colors.

IA/IIIA Opague

IA/IIIA Opaque type is tubular in shape and simple construction (compound only if there was a thin clear glass coating on the exterior, which a minority of these beads exhibited). The ends tend to be slightly more polished when compared to the IA/IIIA Translucent. There are no surface decorations. The beads are at least 4-6 mm in length with a diameter of 2 mm. Black or white are the dominant colors with powder blue or green examples. The powder blue types are longer than the black or white beads. As noted previously some, but not most, of these beads (white and fewer black) have a clear coating. The black color appears burgundy in intense light.


IB/IIIB XL type is tubular in shape with complex construction (composite only if there was a thin clear glass coating on the exterior of the matrix bead which none of these beads exhibited). The mono-colored matrix bead has applied stripes making the construction complex. The stripes tend to be single lines of thin glass running parallel or slightly twisted to the length. The number of stripes varies with six or eight being normal. The ends are rough. The beads tend to be slightly smaller than the IA/IIIA XL with beads with lengths exceeding 20 mm and diameters of 5 mm. The beads are opaque with the matrix color normally bluish white or black. The bluish white type has three alternating red and blue stripes, which have a slight twist along its length. The black type has six single red stripes parallel to the length.


IIA1/IVA1 variety(s) has been discussed previously. It includes simply constructed large and medium sizes and less frequently very large sizes. This variety includes those specimen with clear glass coatings, similar to Brain's (Brain 1981 8) IVA1. The beads have rounded or polished ends. This bead assumes a number of shapes from round to barrel to doughnut to peanut.


IIA7/IVA7 variety(s) includes all opaque green drawn beads, which are large and medium sized and less frequently very large. These beads have simple construction except for a very few which exhibit a clear thin glass coating that was not reported by Brain for Tunica. Bead sizes range from 4 mm to 25 mm in length. The surface of the glass typically shows the longitudinal "stretch marks" of manufacturing which are not typically apparent on the IIA1/IVA1. The shapes of this variety mirror those of the IIA1/IVA1.


IIA/IVA Other type includes all of the other colored varieties excepting the white IIA1/IVA1 and green IIA7/IVA7. The beads are simply constructed drawn beads of medium, large and less frequently very large sizes with lengths of 4 mm to 20 mm. The bead shapes ranges from round to oblong. Compared to IIA1/IVA1 and IIA7/IVA7 there are fewer medium sized beads.


IF/IIIF type is multifaceted normally with 18 ground facets. The shapes vary from round to barrel to tubular. The ends are normally flat. Most are translucent but some are opaque. Colors vary too, with clear, amber and blue dominating. This bead type was not found at Tunica.


IIB/IVB type includes all complex bead varieties including those beads, which exhibit a thin clear glass coating, making the structure composite. As stated earlier, the clear glass coating that was prominent at Tunica is rarer with the Chickasaw beads. All of the other structural elements of IVB-size, shape, color, stripe color and opacity are exhibited in the IIB types. These beads appear to have a matrix of IIA1, IIA7 or IIA Other rods with stripes applied followed by polishing. The shapes range from round to oblong with sizes ranging from 8 mm to 20 mm. The sizes are normally large to very large with large being dominant.


IIIA1 variety exhibits a tubular shape with a compound structure manifested by translucent green core surrounded by a brick red opaque surface. The bead lengths average 8-12 mm.


IIIA type includes any tubular compound bead with any outside coating other than the thin clear glass. The two layers of glass in these beads each contribute significantly to the diameter, unlike the beads with the thin clear glass coating. In the Chickasaw database, this includes two varieties of Chevron beads. One variety demonstrates a brick red core covered with a black surface coat and a round cross-section. The ends of the beads have been ground to bevels that reveal a show of the red core. These beads are very large with lengths to 20 mm. The other variety also has a red brick core with a black outer coat and a round cross-section. The ends are ground slightly, and in the outer black coat has been ground away to reveal thin longitudinal stripes of the red core. These beads are not as long as the first variety with lengths up to 16 mm.


IVA2 variety is the same bead as Tunica IVA2, which is the same compound bead as IIIA1 above, except in shape. IVA2 demonstrates round to barrel shapes as opposed to the tubular shape of IIIA1. The ends of IVA2 are polished flat or mildly round. The bead lengths normally range from 6-10 mm.


IVB (IVA2) variety is the same bead as IVA2 above, with the addition of three compound surface stripes. The stripes consist of three sets of two black sandwiching one white stripe, set at 120 degrees to the axis of the bead. The ends are ground sub round and the lengths range from 6-10 mm.


WIA is a wound bead type with no surface decoration. The majority of the beads are extra large, some exceeding 25 mm in diameter; the remainder is very large to large. The shape is round. Colors vary with bluish white being most prevalent with white, powder blue, black, amber, clear, red, brick red and green occurring in lesser degrees. The opacity varies with the powder blue, white, blue, brick red and black being opaque and the bluish white, amber, clear and red and green partially translucent. The winding of the translucent beads is evident on their surfaces while the opaque beads surface windings are not as prevalent. This bead type includes all of the WIA varieties found at Tunica.


WIB is a wound bead type that is donut to flattened tear shaped. The sizes of WIB are very large and large. The color range of these beads is similar to the WIA though most are translucent bluish white, amber, navy blue and clear. This bead type includes the WIB varieties found at Tunica.

WIB Wrap is a wound bead type that is donut-shaped but structurally differing from WIB in that this bead type was produced by making a single wrap of glass where the WIB demonstrate multi-layers of glass windings. This single wrap also tends to make the bead imperfect in shape, i.e. the single wrap did not have adequate cohesion to maintain the desired shape prior to cooling. The colors of this bead are similar to WIB and more encompassing as green, blue, clear and amber translucent varieties exist and black opaque varieties are found within the collection. The WIB Wrap types are sized large and thus smaller than most of the WIB. The WIB Wrap was not noted at Tunica.


WIC is a wire-wound type beads with an oval shape. The colors are bluish white or navy blue with opacity exactly like WIA. These beads are similar to the WIA beads as far as color, glass, density of wire wounds and size. The majority of these beads are extra large with the remainder being very large. This type of beads was also found at Tunica and classified WIC.


WID represents a wire-wound type bead that is oval but much smaller than WIC. The bead sizes range from medium to large with most being medium. These beads occur most frequently as opaque white and black and translucent raspberry the most common varieties. Most of the raspberry beads have heavily oxidized to a pink opaque form and lost the integrity of their holes. This type of bead was found at Tunica and classified WID.


WIE (1) bead type is spheroidal and barrel shaped wire-wound beads. The beads are large sized and are found in a number of color varieties-amber, navy blue, clear and green are the most popular, all translucent. The glass colors are similar again to WIA and WIB. The WIE (1) type was found at Tunica.


WIE (2) includes a second spheroidal bead type that differs from WIE Large not only in size but also in the typical colors involved which are tan, black and white all opaque and a translucent raspberry like that variety in WID. This bead type was not found at Tunica.


WIIA type includes wire-wound shaped faceted beads with each bead having eight five-sided facets. The sizes are large and very large. This type is identical to those found at Tunica with the translucent amber, navy blue and clear varieties predominating. These bead colors and glass translucence are identical to the WIB and WIE (1).


WIIB type includes wire-wound shaped beads assuming forms resembling raspberry and melon. Other shapes are spiraled or straight grooves or flattened. The shapes were added while the bead was cooling. Most of the beads are barrel shaped with the exception of flattened beads. These barrel shaped beads are translucent with colors of amber, clear and navy blue dominating with glass identical to WIB, WIE (1) and WIIA. The flattened beads are opaque white and translucent amber and blue. This barrel shaped type of bead was reported at Tunica as WIIB.


WIIC type is wire-wound which have a constant shaped cross-section either pentagonal or rectangular with the pentagonal glass being bluish white, clear or amber and the square opaque white. The glass opacity and color s are the same as the WIA beads and WIB beads. The WIIC type was found at Tunica.


WIIIA are round or spheroidal in shape and have applied surface inlays of stripe or meandering lines. The parallel blue and green with white striped beads, Brain's WIIIA1 and WIIIA2 are actually drawn beads as Brain (Brain 1981 18) suggested. Within the Chickasaw collection, these two varieties represent a significant percentage of this type; we concluded to follow the Tunica lead for typing these beads. These beads occur as large sizes.

WIIIB type is wire-wound bead with leaf-shaped surface decorations. These beads are large in size and typically opaque white with the leaf translucent blue. This bead type was found at Tunica.


WIIIC type is wire-wound beads, which have either interior or exterior decoration caused by fusing different color of glass rods. This type is extra large and is round to spheroidal in shape.