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Tara of Gran Canaria by Sarah Corbett

Tara, fertility goddess of Gran Canaria was discovered in a cave in Telde on the Eastern coast of the island.

The terracotta clay statue is 27 cm tall and is a representation of a woman sitting in a cross legged position. The idol has been carefully burnished and has remains of paint on the surface. The form has similarities to early fertility goddess representations from other cultures in its triangular form. The face of the goddess is created by way of small careful incisions, and she also bears the broad hips often understood to represent fertility.

Tara was left in the cave by the Guanche people, who were the indigeonous inhabitants of the Canary Islands. The town of Telde was one of the two main Guanche settlements on the Island which was then called Tamaran.

The Guanche people were closely related to the Amazigh  people of the North African mainland. Stones with writing closely related to to early Libyan Tifanagh writing exist in the Canary Islands, and the genetics of the people correspond to those of North Africa too.  Other indicators of a connection are a matriarchal society and fertility goddess worship. It is believed that the earliest Guanche people arrived on the islands before 1000BC. The Castilian Conquest of the Canary Islands In 1402 led to the absorption of Guanche peoples into the arriving Spanish population via marriage. Guanche garments were made from goat skin and woven plant fibres worn along with necklaces of wood, bone, shell and beads of baked earth. Baked clay seals called Pintaderas with patterned designs which were used for body painting have been discovered.

The Guanche people lived in caves, and also used caves as places of worship and for  resting places for their deceased. Mummification was prevalent.  In the North of Gran Canaria at Galdar, a sacred Guanche site, discovered in 1862, has painted decoration to the walls of a cave. Pottery, tools, bodies of the deceased and furnishings which were hewn from the volcanic rock were discovered within the cave. Many of the paintings were triangular forms which are associated with female fertility.

It is possible to visit the painted cave, and the Tara idol is displayed in the Canadian Museum in Las Palmas.


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Beads from Briare

Jean Felix Batterposses was an entrepeueur, an inventor, a landowner a patriach and a businessman.

His impact on the development of the French town of Briare was huge.

His factory produced beads and buttons in Briare from 1851 he had factories in other locations previously where he manufactured these wares.

The Beads which were made in the factory in Briare, and later in the Czech Republic and Germany are nowadays mostly referred to as ‘Prosser beads’, after the inventors of the pressing technique used for the beads, British brothers Richard and Thomas Prosser.

Jean Felix Baterposses himself would not use the name of other men to describe the beadshe so proudly made. At the time of production, the term that was mostly used was ‘Oriental beads’ and this description can be found on many sample cards to describe the beads.
The Czechs call the beads ‘Sinter beads’ which refers to the sintering of the ingredients. Another term often used is porcelain beads. The technique and the end result of the bead production can be seen as somewhat between glass and porcelain. Depending on the mix of ingredients and the use of feldspar as the main ingredient the product is either closer to glass or to porcelain. When looking at the majority of beads from the Batterposses factory the beads have a very ‘glassy’ feel and look.

The Prosser method was invented by those seeking a method for making porcelain buttons, and the first buttons were pottery. However after the beads started being made ion Briare, glassmakers from Germany and Bohemia would continue making the beads. The beads came from a history of porcelain, but were eventually sold alongside glass beads.

The beads made at the Batterposses factory were mostly intended for international trade.

Examples of the Prosser beads can be found in Ethnic jewellery around the world.

The Rubbish tips around the factory make great hunting grounds for beads.

Extract from the book Beads of Briare by Floor Kaspers

available to purchase here