Fired steatite was an important material used in many different types of Indus jewelry. Steatite beads are found in all four necklaces in the center of this collection of jewelry from Harappa and Mohenjo-daro.
The large number and great variety of stone beads on the Bead TImeline make their origins and manufacture of special interest. Two factors define the process: the characteristics of the raw material being used; and the effort that a beadmaker wishes to expend. Soft stones; such as talc or soapstone, can easily be carved, drilled and polished to produce a bead or pendant. Harder stones require different techniques, worked out over many thousands of years. In addition, the surface of the stone can be painted, incised or glazed to modify its natural appearance. The nature of the raw material and the processes of manufacture often contribute to the longevity of a bead and its overall cultural or economic value.