Seminole Beads

Published on August 31, 2012 by Amy

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Seminole Beads
Seminole Beads

Beads have always been popular among the Indians and the Seminoles were no exception. The Seminoles used beads in making necklaces and in decorating their leggings, pouches and other items of clothing.

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Glass Ornamental Beads (Necklaces):

Worn on up to five strands. Strands may be tight at the neck or down to the stomach. String beads on imitation sinew or waxed string. Beads can be mixed on a strand. Avoid “Fire-Polish”.

Metal Ornamental Beads (necklaces):

Seminoles also used metal beads. While no beads have been found in archaeological digs, it is obvious from paintings that metal beds were worn. In Catlin’s famous paintings of Osceola shows him wearing a necklace of round metal beads close to the neck and another made of melon beads with glass and round metal beads between them.

Remember that the one metal preferred by the Seminoles was silver.

Glass Decorative Beads:

Seed and Pony beads are small donut shaped beads that were used mainly to decorate Seminole Garments. The size of these beads are not given in millimeters, but in a number system running from 16 to 2, with 16 being the smallest and 2 being the largest. The numbers indicate the number of beads lined up in an inch side by side. These sizes are written as 11% 11/o. Sizes 8 to 2 are commonly called ‘Pony’ beads. These are used mainly in finger woven sashes and garters (white only) and strung on necklaces.

Of the seed beads, 11/o, 12/o, and 13/o are the sizes used to decorate leggings and shoulder pouches, etc. By sewing them directly tot he material in a technique called ‘Appliqué’. 10/o size beads are noticeably larger and would be used in the border and not in the design.

In purchasing these beads, it is advised they be purchased from Indian craft suppliers as they would be consistent in size and color. Regular craft stores do not sell them by sizes. For real authenticity, obtain beads in “Old-time” colors.


Seed Beads (from Goggin) – white, light blue, rose, dark blue, yellow, green and black (all opaque)

Pony Beads (from Piper) – white, pink, blue, black, green, tan (all opaque)

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