264: Beads

Here’s an interesting look at the use of certain kinds of beads in Ozark folk healing.

Parler, Mary Celestia – Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)
Randolph, Vance – Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)
Wilson, Charles Morrow – Backwoods America (BA)

Bodark beads worn for summer complaint – “Dr. C. T. Ryland, of Lexington, Missouri, told me that he was called to see a sick infant in a family from south Missouri. The child had what was called ‘summer complaint,’ with a high temperature. Noticing a string of yellow wooden beads around the baby’s neck, Dr. Ryland was told that ‘them’s bodark, to keep fever away from the brain.’” ~Randolph OMF 154

Red glass beads worn for nosebleed – “I once met a very old man on the road near Sylamore, Arkansas, wearing a string of large red glass beads. I asked five or six of his neighbors about it, and they all told me that he wore the beads as a remedy for nosebleed. ‘Oh yes, I reckon it works all right,’ said one young fellow in answer to my question, ‘but I’d ruther have nosebleed as to pack them fool beads all the time!’” ~Randolph OMF 154

“…red beads are a cure for a nosebleed…” ~Wilson BA 52

Burdock beads for protection – “A basketmaker at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, told me that children are best protected against witches by wearing a necklace of dried burdock roots, cut into small pieces and strung like beads.” ~Randolph OMF 291

Gold beads for a sore throat – “Gold beads worn about the throat are a remedy for sore throat…” ~Wilson BA 52

Amber beads worn for a goiter – “Amber beads will reduce a goiter…” ~Wilson BA 53

“For thyroid (goiter), one can wear amber beads.” ~Parler FBA II 2296

Amber beads for asthma – “Anyone with asthma can get relief by wearing amber beads.” ~Parler FBA II 1429

“Corn beads” worn for cough – “Many old folks used to grow what is known as corn beads and they were strung and worn around the neck for coughs.” ~Parler FBA II 1972

Blue beads worn for sore throat – “The best cure that has been found for Bronchitis is to wear a necklace of blue beads next to the skin.” ~Parler FBA III 3408

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