Tibetan Dzi beads are the most expensive things you can buy in Tibet as a souvenir during Tibet tour. the most expensive Dzi you can buy are the ancient Dzi, which would cost you about the millions of RMB. In 1980’s many travelers had the opportunity of buying the ancient Dzi from local Tibetans.
What is Gzi
Dzi beads are any ancient beads (decorated or not decorated) that have been found in Tibet and other Himalaya region. Dzi is a generic name for large numbers of ancient chalcedony stone or agate beads that are Natural, color enhanced and decorated. It is not reserved only to the stone bead with the eye. but all the Dzi are not that popular as that of pure Dzi. Dzi is considered an ancient if it is older than one thousand years old. we must know that not all the Dzi were made from the same place and the same time. this lead to the variety in the quality and the method used in making it. We Tibetan consider pure Dzi in not made by the human that is why is consider a priceless.
The origin of Dzi beads
The Dzi can be traced back to the Indus river civilization, between 2000 to 1000 BC. Historical records and evidence, does show that there is a craft in Indus river civilization about making beads. during the earlier Tibetan power in central Asia, Tibetan raiders have brought back home thousands of Dzi beads from Persia.
How are dzi beads made? It is popularly believed as a human-made, that art of making Dzi in still clearly unknown and its considered as a lost art of the world. The materials used in making Dzi is agate as a base stone. Tibetan believe it is not made by human hand. There is a popular belief among us that the Dzi is an insect and with the touch of human heat, the inset becomes the Dzi. Some other believe it as droppings of Garuda bird. whatever it is, it is highly valued in our Tibetan societies as a precious for its rarity. We also cherish the bead as hereditary gems. Pass down on hundreds of generation and worn by thousands of individuals. Dzi beads also have a medicinal value in our Tibetan traditional medical system. it is used as an ingredient in high valued Tibetan medicine.
Category of Dzi
Category 1 is generally the most sought out after the group of beads in order of desirability. it should be noted that Dzi with eyes tend to be the most sought after all Dzi. However, other beads in this category can easily more valuable. In some cases, If beads are sold as a match pair this can greatly increase their value. As an example a pair of perfectly match Tiger Dzi would command greater value as a pair than if both bread are sold individually.
The more simple way to view these categories is by seeing that all the beads in this category 1 are regarded as a pure Dzi and there fore of non human Origin. Luk Mik Dzi with decoration would be regard as a pure Dzi within this category and natural varieties would not. We Tibetans view pure Dzi as being of Divine or super nature origin and there fore not made by human hand. Even the bead hole is believed to be a natural occurrence and not drilled by hand. Beads in category 2 are also highly valued as amulets, however, they would not be seen as possessing the same merit as category 1 beads. Ancient beads that have a terrestrial origin do not hold quite the same allure as beads believed to have fallen from the heavens.
Dzi with eyes (which include fusiform, oval and barrel shape Dzi)
Oval Dzi (which can include lotus design, longevity vase, and other decorations. In some regions of Tibet these beads can be sought after than beads with eyes).
Dzi with unusual design (which include a combination of eyes and unique motifs).
Tiger Dzi, these Dzi are oval in shape and display a double stripe decoration. Some times rare beads can contain more stripes.
Tasso Dzi, these are single stripe Dzi are not to be confuse with double stripes Tiger Dzi.
Luk Mi Dzi or Ta Mik Dzi, this includes both decorated and natural varieties that are likely to have originated from India and western Asia. it is the decorated variety of these tabular beads that are most sought after. Some rare beads can include symbols such as swastika or cross. Only the decorated beads are seen as pure Dzi.
Chong or Chung Dzi with unusual decorations and eyes- some Chung Dzi can display eyes and other Decorations. they are very collectible but not fall into the pure Dzi category and this is reflected in their market value.
Chong Dzi with strpies
Phum Dzi– These wonderful beads usually display net or longevity decoration and in some rare cases they can display eyes and other decoration. they are usually gray and black in color and display a white decoration, They can also be much fatter than other beads and have a less uniformed shape.
Natural banded agates or heat treated agate beads. These beads can display variety of colors and natural banding. the most sought after of these beads will display natural eye formations and stronger darker base color.
Natural round (some times barrel shaped) agate beads known as Bhaisajyaguru, Soloman, or Suleimani beads. they are usually opaque beads that are black/brown/grey in color and can display natural crystalline banding they are considered perfect beads for spancer and complete Malas.
Decorated (Also known as etched) agates and carnelians (which include the Pyu beads Burma and decorated beads found in southern India and western Asia). These beads can display stripes, eyes and unusual decorations. They also come in a variety of shapes and size and can range from subtlle orange to deep ruby red in color( if made from Carnelian ). their decoration is usually white but can also appear in black.