Pyu BeadsBeads of Pyu
Pumptek & Pyu Beads - Garuda Holding
You will find old and old Burmese pearls in this section. Includes Pumtek and other gemstones that are thought to date from the Pyu/Tircul age. Pumtek means "buried thunderbolt" in Chinese and is currently the most common name outside Burma for this group of pearls.
Just as the term bZi (Wylie: gZi) is the genus name for a multitude of ornate rock pearls in Tibet and the Himalayas. Initially made in antiquity, they often feature line adorned patterns and distinctive patterns not found in any other pearl making area.
Pumptek are also uncommon because they are made of siliceous timber (also known as opalized, fossilized or stony wood) and in some cases are made of Agat or Chalcedon. It is native to Burma and therefore Pumpteks are very different from other Asian pearls. Nowadays they are mainly seen on chin heritage neclaces (also called kuki), a tribe group that spreads from northwest Burma to northeast India.
It is possible that the oldest Pumteks (often very contrasting monochrome beads) date from 400 BC. In the early twentieth century, Burma's pearl manufacturers also adopted the name Pumptek for their own recently produced fossile wooden pearls. This beads were conceived to reproduce the Pumptek found on their much treasured heritage necklace.
The use of these pearls was seen as a sign of location and richness within the tribe and they also functioned as protection allies. For the inexperienced observer, the pearls of the twentieth century are often mistaken for much previous generations of ours because they are so similar. Also the chin mixes old and old pearls on the same heritage necklace and this can often make it hard to distinguish them.
In the 1990' a small metallurgical company in Burma was revitalized and once again pearl manufacturers tried to reproduce Pumtek much sooner, but these later pearls are a real life in terms of the qualities of materials and craftsmanship. The first appearance of a ripple of pearls of heirlooms in the West occurred in the 1980' and was soon to end up in the form of a collection.