Detarium microcarpum  Guill. & Perr. Dank  - Fabaceae

The fruit of a West African tree, Detarium microcarpum, from which "myrrh" beads are made is known as 'dank' in Senegal and 'tamba dala' in Mali.  The tree grows in dry savannas and produces seeds that are roughly ovoid and about one and one-half inch (four centimeters) in diameter.  A floury sweet pulp intertwines with fibers that lie beneath a rind that cracks at maturity.

In Mali women pound the fragrant seed to powder.  After sifting they add hot water to it and boil the mixture until thickened.  The resultant paste is rolled into small round beads, punctured and left to dry in the sun.  A rope of approximately 400 of these yellowish-tan beads are then strung together.  Ten of these strands are tied together to form a belt that married women wear around their hips.17

In the U.S. these beads are incorrectly thought to be made from myrrh, a resin from the Biblical tree, Commimphora sp.

 

 

 

 

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