Bactrian Amulets Carved Stone Miniatures Third-Second Century B.C.

Quantity: 1 available

Bactrian artisan



Bactria Margiana Archeological Complex


Before 1800



Very Good

Item Condition


Country of Origin



Primary Material
Product Description
Bactrian cultural symbols carved of alabaster, a name given to the white stone in the area, and pierced for wearing as amulets. Bactria is located in part of Northern Afghanistan. Its culture arose in the Desert Oases of the area from modern Turkmenistan to modern Iran. Because of the abundance of beautiful stone in the Himalayas, the Bactrians in Afghanistan advanced quickly in crafting seals, amulets tools and utensils in stone.

The labor involved in crafting such pieces is unimaginable for a modern person. The alabaster would have been mined, then carved, polished and then possibly hours would have been spent twisting a bronze point (or originally a stone point) against the alabaster piece until it was pierced. For thicker pieces, the point would not have been able to pierce all the way through, because the length of the point had to be limited.

The point was first dipped in wet grit, so the point could grind its way half way into a thicker piece of alabaster or other stone, then the worker would repeat the process from the other side, hoping to meet fairly straight on in the middle. I have many thicker or longer amulets in which the hole at the end of the bead is wide, but as it reaches the mid-point, it is quite narrow and if it does not meet straight on with the piercing from the other end, it is very hard to string the amulet on anything but a fine thread.

In the last book in the list below, one of these pieces is shown on the cover and on page 99 you can see a photo of all 4 of the pieces for sale here.

These pieces are very small, the largest one being the foot shape at 11 mm wide from heel to toe x 9 mm high from sole to ankle. The fertility amulet is the thickest and is 4 mm thick.

Victor Sarianidi, Necropolis of Gonur, Athens, 2007
Victor Sarianidi, Myths of Ancient Bactria and Margiana on its Seals and Amulets, 1998
Giancarlo Ligabue and Sandro Salvatori, Bactria, Venice, 198-
Lois Sherr Dubin, The History of Beads, New York, 1987
Robert K. Liu, Collectible Beads, Vista, 1995
Materials Used
More Info
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Product Attributes

Color: White

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