During my travels in Alaska and north Russia have I learned about the traditional beadwork of Inuits of Greenland and the Russian Kokoshnik
Beads are among the oldest and most beautiful craftsmanship we find, dating thousands of years back in human history. They represent fare more than just personal adornment. Beads have been used worldwide in countless ways, as talismans in prehistoric and modern society, as status symbols in the ancient world and in Africa and Asia today, as religious articles in Buddhist, Christian and Islamic faiths, and as a medium of trading at all times.
Inuits of Greenland have used beads to decorate themselves and their clothes as well as amulets for good fortune and protection against evil spirits for thousands of years. The earliest known beads were made of natural material as soft stone, bones, mussels, teeth and parts of the fish vertebrae and skeleton. Tiny beads of fish vertebrae coloured with blood, juice from berries and herbs and then mixed with the natural off white, were strung up to get different patterns for adornment long before the arrival of whaling ships and missionaries, who were responsible for bringing European glass beads to trade in the early 18th century.
Beadwork became immense popular among women and were used to decorate many household items such as serviette rings, Christmas decoration, candleholders and tablemats.
A tradition probably imported from Denmark or Norway is the knitted wrist warmers also with beautiful glass bead patterns used both with the national costume as well as in everyday life.
The Kokoshnik is a traditional Russian headdress worn by women and girls to accompany the sarafan. The kokoshnik tradition has existed since the 10th century in the ancient Russian city Veliky Novgorod. It spread primarily in the northern regions of Russia and was very popular from 16th to 19th century. It is still to this day an important feature of Russian folk culture.