Harmony Ball Pendant Design and Local Traditions. ©
It is known that a harmony ball pendant, also known by other names throughout the ages like druid balls, chime balls, bolas and others, were worn for more than just adornment. Harmony ball pendants were worn by different cultures in different regions for different reasons. Harmony ball pendants were also worn differently, sometimes as a necklace around the neck on a cord or a chain, sometimes attached to clothing again using a leather or twine cord or metal chain. Harmony balls were also made of different materials including metals and certain carved hardwoods and stone.
As much as harmony ball pendants varied greatly in design, shape, size and materials there was one commonality – these harmony ball pendants incorporated cultural and family traditions in their designs. The artisans of the time, local artisans from a village or community of villages or region will have used a particular design style pertaining to that region, something handed down from master artisan to apprentice through the generations. So a wearer of a harmony ball pendant could be recognized by others as being from a particular region or village by the design of the harmony ball.
In addition to the locality aspect of the harmony ball design the local artisan would also incorporate a family emblem component in the design for the wearer representing his or her clan. Often if the harmony ball was used by a warrior, as was the case with Celtic warriors in the wearing of the druid ball, a form of harmony ball. In this instance the artisan would incorporate a family or clan signature emblem into the intricate design of the harmony ball. The Celtic warriors wore the druid or harmony balls for their calming effect before a battle. In the aftermath of a bloody battle the survivors would collect the harmony (druid) ball pendants off the dead to take home to their families.
Silver, or a silver alloy similar to sterling silver was the choice of metal used by the artisans making harmony balls, in regions where the precious metal and metalsmithing skills were available. In other cases the artisan would use a local hardwood or soft stone to carve out the harmony ball shape and indeed the small bell. Much of the skill in making the harmony ball without the aid of todays technology was in making it hollow, making a small bell and inserting it inside the harmony ball without leaving an opening that would allow the small bell to fall out.
Pregnancy harmony ball pendants were worn by a number of cultures. It is said that the soft chiming sound of the harmony ball pendant would soothe and calm the unborn baby in the womb, and after birth it would soothe the newborn baby. Most women wore the harmony ball as a necklace on a long chain that would position the harmony ball over their abdomen, as close to the womb as possible. Some though wore the harmony ball on a shorter necklace, usually cord or chain, so that the pendant did not get in the way as they tended the crops or did their weaving.
Pregnancy harmony balls were often made by women elders who included the tradition of the womans family in their design, not unlike caretakers of the traditional values. Most women would hand down their harmony ball to their female child when she herself became pregnant although many times the harmony ball construction would render it very fragile and they would often break, keeping the local harmony ball maker very busy.