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Lidded metal container decorated cover in white, red, blue and black beads. 'Beads have been used both as currency and as jewellery since earliest times. Trade developed between Africa and India and the East as early as the first century AD. From the 15th century onwards, glass beads from Venice, Bohemia and Amsterdam were imported and traded for the natural wealth of Africa. Coral from the Mediterranean and cowrie shells from the Indian ocean was also traded for African goods. This Beaded tea urn is part of a set of beadwork made for a Zulu wedding, collected by Mrs F A Laughton around 1940, includes armlets, necklaces, leg ornaments, girdles, head ornaments and even a bead-covered can for holding tea or beer.' Taken from 'The Arts and Crafts of Africa' Highlights tour on NMNI website written by Winifred Glover.