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

Database Fields: Glass Beads

Prior to the interviews, glass bead database fields were developed generally employing the Kidd and Kidd (Kidd and Kidd 1970 46) glass bead classification system as amended by Brain (Brain 1981 7). To expedite the comparison of this work to Tunica, use of Brain's typology was followed except as noted below.

First, a basic description of the Kidd and Kidd bead classification system follows. The Kidd and Kidd system's first level of classification relied on the method of bead production, i.e. tube (drawn) or wire-wound. Tube beads were manufactured by drawing apart a hollow glob of molten glass. Wire-wound beads were produced by melting a solid rod of glass around a spinning mandrel.

The tube beads were divided into four classes (I-IV) based on whether or not the bead shape is rounded and whether its construction is simple, compound, complex or composite. A simple bead has only one layer of glass; a compound bead has two or more layers of glass. A complex bead is a simple bead with surface decoration and a composite bead is a compound bead with surface decoration. The type of beads (A-B) distinguishes various combinations of these criteria.

Following Kidd and Kidd, Brain (Brain 1981) reintroduced the eight types of drawn beads developed by Kidd and Kidd. Brain's type descriptions differed slightly from Kidd and Kidd and parentheses are added below to note the changes . . .

      IA rough ends (tubular form), simple construction
      IB rough ends (tubular form), complex construction
      IIA rounded ends (rounded tube form), simple construction
      IIB rounded ends (rounded tube form), complex construction
      IIIA rough ends (tubular form), layered-compound construction
      IIIB rough ends (tubular form), layered-composite construction
      IVA rounded ends (rounded tube form), layered-compound construction
      IVB rounded ends (rounded tube form), layered-composite construction

Kidd and Kidd used "tubular form" to define a tubular shape and "rounded tube form" described a tube shape that had been altered by reheating, grinding or tumbling.

Wire-wound beads, which begin with a 'W', are divided into three classes - I, II and III, based on construction, shape and additional decoration, after Brain,

      WI simple construction, simple shape
      WII simple construction, altered shape (faceted, molded, etc)
      WIII complicated construction (layered, inlaid, and other)

A further division of wire-wound classification is "type" which defines more closely details of shape and decoration. The type classification follows Brain's work with the Tunica material, i.e. A, B, etc.

Brain (Brain 1981 3) modified Kidd and Kidd's classification indicating that variety "of all bead types, drawn and wire-wound, take into account variations in size, degree of opacity versus translucency, color and where appropriate, qualities of surface decoration". Brain's variety then expresses the bead's individuality. For Tunica, Brain noted 96 varieties of glass trade beads - 49 wire-wound and 47 drawn. Brain used variety as the basic unit of description, comparison and interpretation. An example of a drawn bead variety from Brain is IIA1, which is a simple bead with rounded ends and white color; the color in this case draws the "1" variety. Brain sized his IIA1 examples as very small to very large. Brain elected not to use size to define any bead variety; rather he reported a size range for each variety.

Table 1 indicates the Chickasaw glass bead typology. Note that Table 1 documents the Chickasaw bead types/varieties and those varieties used by Brain for the Tunica beads. The selection of the Chickasaw types/varieties follows Brain's Tunica work and references it, but note the differences. The Chickasaw glass bead database, if divided into varieties strictly invoking Brain's typology, would include several hundred varieties, perhaps in excess of 300. The goals of this paper are not to identify varieties but rather to develop a sequence of glass beads and establish a chronology for that sequence. With 200 - 300 bead varieties divided among 187 features, Table 2, the number of features/bead variety would render developing a chronology difficult at best. Therefore, an attempt was made to express the glass bead varieties as a manageable, solvable number of types/varieties.

The Chickasaw bead types/varieties generally exclude color as an attribute of classification. That is, bead varieties were combined into types when color was the only attribute that separated them. This was practiced for most of the bead types below.

Table 1 Chickasaw Glass Bead Typology

Chickasaw Type/Variety Size Tunica Variety Prevalent Colors
IA/IIIA XL XL only None Varies: white, black, powder blue
IA/IIIA Translucent Large/Medium IA3, IA4 Most blue or clear
IA/IIIA Opaque Large/Medium IA1, IA2, IIIA2 Most black or white; some pale blue
IB/IIIB XL XL only IB1, IB2 Varies
IF/IIIF VL/Large/Medium None Most clear or translucent blue, amber, green
IIA1/IVA1 VL/Large/Medium IIA1, IVA1 White only
IIA7/IVA7 VL/Large/Medium IIA7, IVA7 Green only
IIA/IVA Other VL/Large/Medium IIA and IVA 2-6,8-17 All "other" colors save white and green
IIB/IVB VL/Large/Medium All IIB/IVB Varies, any combination of single or multiple stripes
IIIA1 VL/Large IIIA1 Brick red exterior, green center
IIIA VL/Large None Brown, black or red
IVA2 Large/Medium IVA2 Brick red exterior, green center
IVB (IVA2) Large/Medium None IVA2 with three compound stripes
WIA XL/VL All WIA varieties Varies, most pale blue or translucent blue, amber or clear or opaque white or black
WIB Large All WIB varieties Most pale blue or translucent blue, amber, clear
WIB Wrap Large None Most translucent amber, blue, green, clear; opaque black
WIC XL/VL All WIC varieties Varies, most pale blue or opaque dark blue
WID Large/Medium All WID varieties Most opaque white or black or translucent pink
WIE (1) Large All WIE varieties Most translucent amber, blue, clear
WIE (2) Large/Medium None Most tan, black, pink, white
WIIA VL/Large All WIIA varieties Most amber, blue or clear
WIIB VL/Large All WIIB varieties Most amber, blue or clear
WIIC XL/VL All WIIC varieties Most pale blue or white or amber
WIIIA VL/Large All WIIIA varieties Same as Tunica
WIIIB Large All WIIIB varieties Varies
WIIIC XL All WIIIC varieties Varies

Two varieties, IIA1/IVA1 and IIA7/IVA7, maintain their color attribution on Table 2. These color bead varieties were permitted because the beads exhibited peculiar attributes within the collection, see Tables 2 and 3. For the benefit of comparison, prevalent colors of the bead types/varieties are provided in column four of Table 1.

Note on Table 1 that several of the Chickasaw bead types combine drawn bead classes, when compared to Tunica: IA and IIIA, IB and IIIB, IIA and IVA and IIB and IVB. These combinations join bead types of differing taxonomic construction and seemingly defy the basis of Kidd and Kidd system. In fact, the combinations join simple beads and compound beads identical in all of Brain's variety attributes: size, degree of opacity and translucency, color and surface decoration, save those that exhibit a thin clear layer of clear glass on the exterior of the matrix bead. The combining of these types joins the simply constructed bead with those compound beads that have an identical matrix but the matrix is coated with a thin layer of clear glass. Brain noted a thin clear glass coating on many Tunica bead varieties, for instance IVA1 and IVA7. Bead varieties IIA1 and IVA1, were identical save the thin clear exterior coating of glass on IVA1. At Tunica IIA1 represented 5,887 specimen and IVA1 113,501. For IIA1/IVA1 of the Chickasaw medium, large and very large beads perhaps 10% had a visible layer of thin clear glass. Most of the Chickasaw thin, clear glass coating was observed on the IA/IIIA Opaque, specifically the white colors. The thin, clear glass coating was evident particularly on the very small, small and medium specimen.

Note that IF/IIIF bead type combination does not concern the thin, clear glass coating. Most of the IIIF include a core of a different color glass, i.e. the matrix may be different glass than the exterior. The types were conjoined as they were discovered together within features.

Table 1 notes three Chickasaw glass bead varieties attributable to Brain (Brain 1981 8) - IIIA1, IVA2 and IVB (IVA2), which represent varieties of the same core bead, the 'Cornaline d'Aleppo'. These bead varieties were maintained, since they may exhibit mid seventeenth century contexts.

The entire Chickasaw glass bead typology is distinguished by size, see Table 1. As stated earlier, all of the beads included are sized medium, large, very large or extra large. Note the IA/IIIA XL and IB/IIIB XL fields, which exclusively contain extra large sized beads (measuring the length, not the diameter) while the IA/IIIA Opaque, IA/IIIA Translucent and IB/IIIB fields include beads only of medium and large size lengths.

Neither Kidd and Kidd nor Brain used an extra large size. We selected the extra large size to differentiate the opaque IA/IIIA and IB/IIIB tubes. Our recommendation is to change the Kidd and Kidd very large size range from 10 mm to 20 mm and offer an Extra Large size, which is greater than 20 mm.

The sizes used herein are very small: less than 2mm; small: 2 to 4 mm; medium: 4 to 6 mm; large: 6 to 10 mm; very large: 10 to 16 mm and extra large: greater than 16mm.

We have also modified Kidd and Kidd regarding how size is measured. Note that size herein is the maximum glass bead dimension. IA/IIIA XL and IB/IIIB XL use length as the sizing dimension and typically only WIB and WIB Wrap use diameter as the maximum dimension. The argument for recording maximum dimensions stems from bead mass and the cost of manufacturing and transporting that mass.

Two fields describe WIB types- WIB and WIB Wrap. The Chickasaw WIB is identical to Brain while WIB Wrap represents a single, course wrap with distorted shaped holes. The WIB Wrap glass texture is finer than WIB. The colors differ too, with WIB trending toward WIA and WIIA while WIB Wrap glass colors appear subtler than WIB.

Note that two fields describe WIE beads- (1) and (2). WIE (1) is identical to Brain WIE with most beads sizing large while WIE (2) sizes are medium to large. Colors vary between WIE (1) and WIE (2). See Table 1.

The Chickasaw type/varieties WIA, WIC and WIIC are dominated by Brain's WIA1, WIC1 and WIIC1 varieties, which share identical glass and most, are extra large sized. The urge to combine these types was resisted due to shape differences.

Kidd and Kidd's system further distinguished compound striped beads, IIB and IVB, by a BB designation when stripes were composed of more than one rod of glass. Brain included all stripes into his B classes, as does the Chickasaw typology.