I've been fascinated by dZi beads lately. Here is a picture of an old agate dZi bead with "dragon skin":
DZi beads are usually made of agate or fossilized palm wood and found in Tibet and India. There are many new dZi beads being comercially manufactured today, but the real dZi beads are hundreds or thousands of years old and they are dug up out of the ground. There is a lot of mystery surrounding who or what entities made the beads, and how. The beads have patterns of lines and circles that symbolize different things from the Buddhist tradition. They are considered amulets that protect the wearer.
DZi beads like the one pictured above get scales or "dragon skin" from burning in a ritual fire. Hundreds of years ago, monks would take part in a ritual of tossing a bead into a fire and chanting over it all night. When the bead was removed from the fire in the morning, it had the scales. These dragon skin dZi beads are considered very special.
I love the simple geometric patterns of the dZi, and I'm fascinated by their different meanings. I've made a few dZi-inspired beads with lampworked glass this past week. Here is one I've made into a pendant for my boyfriend Steve who is a massage therapist. It's a "healer's dZi," so called because of the pattern of 5 "eyes" (circles) connected in a cross with a lightning bolt on the other side. These photos show both sides of the bead:
More information about dZi beads: