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Buddha pearls, mabe & rounds
by: Mario Monteforte

No matter if you need whatever drug to relax the animal, or drilling holes or "buttons" on the shell, use screws, bolts, wires or glue to fix practically any form or size of Mabé you may imagine, it is basically the millenarie manipulation of Buddha figurines that probably Marco Polo brougth to Europe, and somehow Carl Linnaeus had the idea about 5 centuries later.

The surgery for round pearls has evolved since Saville-Kent, but it is the "graft+nucleus insertion in the gonad" with cloned instruments and nucleus bought on-line. You can get access through internet on multidisciplinary and multisectorial material of all cultivation procedures (just take a look at FAO's manuals for instance).

In ocassions people has had the good opportunity of someone showing and teaching the basics, and eventually some practice or further training.

I made a long trip to inland China last year. Rivers, lakes, monasteries and museums plus visits to a couple of freshwater pearling farms. I saw these pearls by the bucket and in plenty of jewerly, just once a modern medallion of a nacred Buda mounted in silver framework. Never a really old one although I looked quite around. I believe Fred Ward (National Geographic 1985) took that picture from a piece actually in the British Museum or the Museum National d'Histoire Naturale, not remember exactly where it is.

I found in internet another picture black & white of a valve from chinese Cristaria or Hyriopsis with several small nacre-covered Buda implants on it. Likely old objet (XVIII ?), a photo or scan from an also old book. Might be F. Ward's same subject in modern digital camera? In any case, some unknown budist monk or a fishermen had the idea a loooong time ago.

By the way, check my works in the latest issues of World Aquaculture Magazine and Panorama Acuicola, dealing with Mabé and round pearls in abalone. Cheers and will stay in touch.

Pearl Buddha
by: Anonymous


interesting point. However, I think we must establish exactly what is meant by the term "Buddha Pearls".

"Buddha Pearls" which is a linguistic twist (possibly in favor of commercial interests) of "Pearl Buddha".

Buddha Pearls as the name suggests, gives one the impression of an old pearl or of "ancient pearls" as Buddha Skakyamuni was born as a royal prince in 624 BC in northern India which is now part of Nepal.

Even so, in respect of ancient pearls, HOW can one really establish the date of such a pearl? ie. What instrument could you use for this purpose?

Fast forward to China, in 2007, China produced 1,600 tons of pearls, 95 percent of the world's total but in the old days, there was virtually NO market within China for pearls, except for medicines and cosmetics. One of the earliest forms of cultivated pearls were Pearl Buddhas that were first produced around A.D. 800 by the Chinese.

The point being, the Chinese were cultivating pearls if you consider it in the context of art, culture and history, possibly for the north Indian market which is now Nepal around A.D. 800. In this respect, "Pearl Buddhas" could have initially been a sassy Chinese marketing technique in favor of foreign commercial interests that would have made Mr Mikimoto blush.

Pearl Buddhas are not round cultured pearls. These tiny figurines were created by attaching a small Buddha carving of ivory, wood, stone or metal onto the inside of a freshwater mussel shell. After a couple of years they were coated with nacre to produce a pearl Buddha.

As to the Chinese cultivating technique used in the final production of a Pearl Buddha, this technique would no doubt be a carefully guarded secret.

Japanese scientists, Mishikawa and Mise are normally recognized for the early discovery of the pearl cultivating technique that led to Culturing of Pearls and then the Japanese Mikimoto Pearls that we all know and love.

However, at risk of offending some Japanese sensitivities, an Australian, C. Denis George convincingly argues that it was not the Japanese at all who discovered the technique of culturing pearls! It was a British-expat, according to George.

More information on the discovery of the pearl cultivating technique can be found here...

Do yo have an image of the pearl?

best wishes,


Date of Buddah Pearls
by: MM

Stamping a date to Buddah Pearls 2000 years old of course it would imply that you actually need to have one in your hands. My question was about the technique. When did the chinese invent it?


Pliny & Cleopatra's Pearl Earring Banquet
by: Anonymous

To have survived 2000 years BEFORE Christ until today, this pearl would be truly remarkable.

The problem seems to be, HOW does one determine the age of an old or ancient Pearl? X-ray will determine if the pearl is a Natural Pearl but ancient, well, that's another thing. "Fossil pearls" and "Buddha pearls" are both problematic in this respect.

When the French jeweler Jean Baptiste Tavernier (1605 - 1689) visited India in the seventeenth century he noticed that the women (from both high and lower classes) were wearing a pearl earring. The pearl was between two colored stones, the colored stones were determined relative to the means of the owner. I believe it is still a custom in India at a wedding to bring a fresh Pearl as an emblem of "the maiden's purity".

Visitors from incredible India are invited to confirm, refute or comment on fresh pearls emblematic of a maiden's purity in India?

"Cleopatra's Pearl Earring Banquet" is also verifiable. Pliny the Elder who was distinguished from his nephew, Pliny the Younger, writing about his observations in the 1st century after Christ's death was the first to publicly describe this fascinating Pearl banquet which is described in Book IX, Chapeter xxv, entitled - Of Pearles; How and Where They Be Found.

Any info on "buddha pearls" or "fossil pearls" or "fresh pearls" as emblems of chasteness or pearls perceived as tokens of women's purity, in India, please join in.

with regards
Yvonne Hammouda-Eyre

Paid Appraisal Info (with valuation) and on-line appraisal form can be found here...

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