Monday, July 28, 2014

South African beadwork

I exchange postcards internationally through an organization called Postcrossing. Recently I communicated with a very nice woman in South Africa who also shares a love of beadwork. European beads were introduced into African societies at about the same time as they came to Native Americans, although older Arab glass beads were also known along the eastern coast. Artists embraced them in the past as well as the present

A Ndebele jogola, bridal apron
The Ndebele were dispersed by the Zulu and came into contact with Sotho where they were influenced artistically. Women wore different types of beaded clothing depending on their age. A bride received a white sheepskin apron from her in-laws and then decorated it with white beads. The five hanging panels represent her ability to produce children. More recent examples feature different colors of beadwork.

Xhosa inkciyo, under apron
worn by both Xhosha and Thembe people of the Eastern Cape, these aprons are made and worn by girls during their initiation into womanhood and then passed on to an younger female relative. The two yellow strings of beads are symbolic of fertility.

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