Tears of Job
The small, light gray "beads" that we use in the jewelry are actually part of the plant Coix lacryma - jobi, or "Tears of Job." This member of the grass family grows wild and the "bead", as it is simply called in Nevis, has a natural hole for stringing. Due to this fact, they have been used for cen- turies by people for decoration and adornment, including the Cherokee Indians of the U.S. who call them "corn beads."
A common folk story is that the corn beads sprang up along the path during the 1838 forced march of many Cherokees to Oklahoma from their southeastern North American homelands by the U.S. military.
The plants that we source are in a ghaut of a very lush village in Nevis called Rawlins. This bead looks like a seed but it is actually a hard, hollow structure (called an involucre) containing flowers and grains. Shaped like a tear drop, it is named after the suffering man from the Old Testament, or the lacrimal glands next to our eyes that pro- duce tears.
Closely related to corn (Zea mays), this is a cereal that is eaten worldwide, but especially in the far-east. The edible, or cultivated variety is var. ma-yuen, and often called Asian Pearl Barley. One of its many cultivars is even brewed into a beer in India. I once saw i t in a recipe for a soup in a health food magazine from the States. Theornamental variety is called var. stenocarpa or var. monilifer and has a harder shell. Other names are Coixseed, Tear Grass, Hato Mugi, adlay or adlai.