Tatiana Ivleva (see Global Glass website)contacted me out of the blue! She came across my journey in Bida, Nigeria. I had traveled to Bida in 2015 specifically to see the glass and brass handmade crafts and techniques, read about: Bida: Bangles and Beads. Somehow Tatiana came across my post and contacted me through my website, nomad4now.com. Tatiana explained that her research involved the ancient craft of glass bangles particularly seamless Romano-British bangles. She was most interested in Nigeria’s glass making tradition as it was similar to the Roman techniques. Titiana inquired if she might use a part of my video in her research and in this exhibition. The following video was released for the exhibition: Fashion Frontiers Glass Bangles of Roman North. Tatiana explains the process:
To see the entire process of the ancient and traditional craft of bead and bangle production in Bida view the next video, parts of which have been included in the exhibition video:
Glass making can be traced to the Ancient Egyptians about 3,500 years ago. The earliest archaeological finds of glass objects in Egypt date back to the reign of the Pharaoh Thutmosis III (1504-1459 BC). The most famous of these is the illustration in the Annals of Thutmose III at Kar- nak. (Paul T. Nicholson ,”Glass Vessels from the Reign of Thutmose III and a Hitherto Unknown Glass Chalice,” Journal of Glass, Vol 48, 2006.) In the last century BC, glass blowing (see Egyptian glass blowers here) was invented in Syria or Mesopotamia which gave rise to a variety of glass objects during Roman times. Glassmaking , the process of making glass from sand and soda ash is said to originate in Egypt. However there are those that disagree and who have researched that the first true glass was made in coastal north Syria in the kingdom of Mitanni, Mesopotamia and brought to Egypt. (Paul T. Nicholson).
The Bida glass makers in their oral history repeat that their ancestors came from Egypt via Chad, the Bornu Empire and migrating from Kano to finally settle with the Nupe area thus bringing with them the knowledge of glassmaking.
Camel caravans from Kano and Timbuktu carried goods —indigo, salt, ivory, gold to name a few—for thousands of years that interconnected the world by the great trade routes. These historic caravans, particularly in the Sahara, Eurasia, and the Arabian peninsula were as much about trading as about communication. One of techniques communicated along the way was glass making.
Tatiana introduced me to Joëlle Rolland who just received her PhD (Congratulations!). Her research was working on Celtic glass making in the 3rd to 1st century BCE. She says,
I discover the glass makers of Bida by the work of Elisabeth Thea Haevernick who publish in 1960 her thesis on celtic glass bangles and illustrate the techniques of fabrication with the famous illustrations of Leo Frobenius. She contact the ethnologist René Gardi who made at that time a movie with comparisons with the work of Celtic bracelets.
Joëlle’s research shows Nigerian/Nepalese way of making the bracelets is extremely similar to the way the European ones were made. She continues:
I was so glad when I discover your so well documented work on the glass-maker of Bida. Ethnographic documentation (from India and Nepal principally) was really good sources for me and the glass-makers I work with, to reconstructs the works of Celtic glass makers. It was such a pleasure to see that this craft was still living on Bida.
Joëlle work can be found here: http://archeoglass.jimdo.com/(website maintained by glassmaker, Joël Clesse).
Tatiana’s ground breaking work in research of how glass techniques travel from the Roman era to England is fascinating. For more information about Tatians’s work, see
Roman Finds Group (provides a forum in Roman artifacts.) Read about the exhibition at: http://www.romanfindsgroup.org.uk/exhibitions
During my journey along the Silk Road, I searched for evidence of glass making. Other than a reference in literature that ‘Arabs’ carried glass in caravans, I did not see evidence of ancient glass. Pottery shards and ceramic bowls were seen in museums as well as at archeological sites. Glass would be difficult to transport, however, why did the technique not travel into Central Asia? Or if it did why are there no surviving remnants of glass, glass making, or glass blowers?
Also see: Une Histoire de bracelets https://archeoglass.jimdo.com