Millefiore, or “thousand flowers”, first surfaced in ancient Alexandria, but was perfected in the great glassmaking cities of Murano and Venice. Glass beads and other objects created there were of such beauty and finesse that they became much sought-after and valuable artifacts.
On the African coast, these Venetian trade beads were used as a form of currency to barter for gold and ivory. So popular did they prove that the North and West Africans came to make their own variation. Thus was born the African trade bead, rare and sought-after by collectors to this day.
The art of millefiore continues today in Swazi Candles. But instead of glass, the gifted candle makers of Swaziland use a special hard wax to create their colourful designs. The hard wax veneer forms the outer shell of the candle, which hardly melts when the candle is lit. Hence the rich, romantic glow of the illuminated exterior as the candle burns, and the burn-again quality when refitted with the votive or tea candle. (Mini sizes do not burn in this manner, yet retain their intrinsic value as works of Swazi craft.)
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