Beaded Handbags: Faces of Cultures

The world of handbags is amazingly diverse. The variety of style and material continue to increase in level with the support and demand for fashionable handbags. Some are designed with simple shapes but adorned with elaborate decorations. This is basically the makings of a western beaded handbag. Whether the handbag is leather, denim, hobo or tote, a beaded handbag is sewn with various types of beads to form a pattern. Beads are quite diverse on their own. Simple single colored beads are made of wood, plastic or glass. 

They vary from the basic donut shape to elongated beads that are similar to tubes but only about half and inch in length. The more elaborately designed beads are made in varying shapes usually in larger sizes. This allows the mixture of colors and different patterns in a single bead. Beaded handbags are hand sewn with simple beads and sometimes with a few sequins or feathers here and there. Although beaded handbags generally have the impression suitable for casual wear, many have made these bags perfect for formal occasions.

In the Philippine scene, the beaded handbag has different image. Beads and beaded handbags are already engraved in its culture. The Philippines is made up of several ethnic groups and most have a similar product, the beaded handbag. However the Philippine beaded handbag is quite different from its western counterparts. Beads are originally used to make jewelry. They make up ethnic accessories from head dresses to belts, bracelets and anklets usually worn by royalty, during rituals and festive occasions. If diamonds are forms of high class and fashion, beads are the diamonds of ethnic groups. Beads were later made into handbags with the same technique of sewing the beads together. Philippine beaded handbags are basically made of beads and string. 

While some are already made with nylon, the ones made of thread are more tender and flowing like fabric. These beaded masterpieces are formed for different purposes. Some are made into pen holders with a long bead strap designed to be hung around the neck. Another design is very small bag almost like a pouch with the same long bead strap for hanging across the torso. This design is meant for carrying wallets and other small personal items. Unfortunately, this form of beaded handbags has not gained a higher status than ethnic and casual in this era. Hopefully, the beaded handbag would regain its place among the most admired and coveted accessories.

Beaded handbags are faces of cultures and their history. They deserve much respect and a chance to live on among today’s intermingling cultures as a reminder of our past and a guide to the future. 


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