The name "millefiori" comes from the Italian for "a thousand flowers" because this brightly colored glass is said to resemble a field full of blooms. The technique for millefiori was first discovered in ancient Alexandria in the 2nd century B.C. The ancients referred to it as "mosaic glass". Rods or sheets of different colored glass were fused together at high temperatures to form exotic patterns. The fused glass was then cut and shaped into exquisite jewelry and vessels. Late in the medieval period, Venetian artisans re-discovered the process. Throughout the renaissance, Venice was a powerful trading nation whose ships sailed into every known port of east and west. For barter, these traders carried millefiori beads, which become especially sought after in Africa. The Africans were seized with a passion for these glass ornaments, for which they traded gold, ivory, and spices. In Africa, millefiori beads quickly became a medium of exchange, and were used by some tribes as a bridal dowry. It is easy to understand why, even after all these centuries. Their bold patterns, like an abstract bouquet, make a timeless appeal to the senses.