Living art

Since pre-Columbian times, ancestral peoples have had a particular fascination for beans, the only food originally domesticated not to be eaten, but to be used as body adornments or central pieces in ritual ceremonies. The Moche people in Northern Peru had such faith in the power of beans, that they were featured in pottery as warrior messengers carrying divine information. Their most respectful caciques or spiritual leaders were buried with beans.

Today, Arhuaco people in the Sierra Nevada in Santa Marta consider beans as sacred living entities. Their spiritual leaders, the Mamos, believe that mountains, rivers, and every natural being, including beans, were all in one moment or another, human beings, and viceversa.

For the past five years, I’ve also been fascinated by these tiny seeds. Mesmerized by their beauty and history, I’ve been gathering heirloom seeds from Colombia, Mexico and Peru, all the way to Spain, Switzerland and Italy, countries which today have beans first brought from the New World. I then bring them to my garden workshop in El Retiro, Antioquia.

When I hold a handful of beans, I channel my pre-columbian ancestors. Captivated by both their aesthetic qualities and their mystical aura, I see them as totems for our most sacred temples. Each is a piece of wearable art, and at the same time a living amulet that can add magic and color to your home.

Natural Pairings

CUMARE

The thread in many of our adornments is made from Cumare, an endemic Amazonian palm which has been harvested by the Koreguaje community for decades, maybe longer. The people extract the fiber from its heart, cook it and taint it with natural pigments.

GOLDEN BEANS

All our golden beans are molded from real ones and crafted carefully by goldsmiths from Antioquia who excel in the pre-Columbian lost-wax technique.

LOCAL + GLOBAL DIVERSITY

Beans embody Colombia’s natural and cultural diversity. With 3,407 bean varieties, it is the third country with most kinds after Mexico and Peru, and with close to 90 different indigenous groups, it is the only nation with multiculturalism and pluralism embedded in its constitution.

And with 38,000 different kinds grown and eaten in every country around the world except the North Pole, beans show us how diversity is a natural part of humanity, of the earth and Earth we all share.

JOY + PLAY

The words jewel, joya (in Spanish) or joyau (in French), share the same roots with the French words joie, meaning joy, or jeu, meaning game. And this is what byXan courts with: the delight one feels when owning or looking at a beautiful ornament, the seeds’ ancestral uses as central pieces in divination games, and the importance of play, of wearing them however one feels like, depending on the mood or day.

WABI SABI

The Japanese believe that imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness are three natural qualities part of every living entity. ByXan bean gems embody this Wabi Sabi way of being.

To learn about our latest gem harvest