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Ornamental work in beads. In the Middle Ages beads were used to embellish embroidery work. In Renaissance and Elizabethan England, clothing, purses, fancy boxes, and small pictures were adorned with beads. In the 19th–20th century beadwork proliferated in dress decoration. Beads are used as ornamentation on a variety of objects (clothing, masks, weapons, dolls) in many cultures, including the Native American, African, and Oceanic.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on beadwork, visit Britannica.com.