NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

2007/11/7

とんぼ玉 Tonbo-dama Dragonfly Ball

Jp En


'Dragonfly-ball'---do you know this small ball with an unusual name? In short, dragonfly-ball is a glass ball with a colorful pattern; a bead with a hole for string.  In Japanese, it is called 'Tombo-dama' and in English 'glass beads'.

The dragonfly-ball has a very long history; it is believed to originate around 3500 years ago in Mesopotamia, the ancient Egypt civilization. Many different dragonfly-balls have been made over the years, attracting many people.

They arrived in Japan in the Edo period from Namban-trade, the trade with Portugal and Spain. The name originated because the surface was decorated with a circle pattern and it looked like the eye of a dragonfly. Since then, for about 400 years, different styles of manufacture or expression have been developed.  Now many modern artists are creating beautiful dragonfly-balls.

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