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THE ART OF SOUTHERN AFRICAN BEADWORK



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THE ART OF SOUTHERN AFRICAN BEADWORK ART AND ANTIQUES FROM AFRICA, OCEANIA AND THE AMERICAS



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ART AND ANTIQUES FROM AFRICA, OCEANIA AND THE AMERICAS

www.jacarandatribal.com dori@jacarandatribal.com T +1 646-251-8528 New York City

© 2021, Jacaranda LLC Published October, 2021 PRICES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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THE ART OF SOUTHERN AFRICAN BEADWORK

We invite you to browse our new catalog, The Art of

ubiquitous, adorning hair pins, earrings, staffs, dolls, snuff

Southern African Beadwork. This offering is not intended to

gourds and almost anything to which the beads could

be a complete survey of the vast variety from the region but

be affixed. Cultural groups developed their own unique

aims to provide a glimpse through our curated selection.

patterning and color combinations.

The beadwork selected ranges in age from the mid-19th

Included in our selection, we are particularly proud to

century to the mid-20th century and was sourced over the

present a very early “swallowtail” undergarment dating to

last 20 years from collectors, auction houses and galleries in

the mid-19th century, a mysterious beaded crown exhibited

Europe, the United Kingdom, the U.S.A. and South Africa.

in Parures de Tete, an important exhibition on African

Arab traders had supplied glass seed beads to the East

headdresses and hairstyles by the Musée Dapper and an

Coast of Africa for at least five centuries before the arrival of

early Sotho child figure with important symbolic meaning

the Portuguese in the late 15th Century. These Arab traders

to the owner of this beautiful object.

had obtained beads from Egypt, Iran and India, long before

Beadwork is often relegated to the world of textiles, as a

European seed beads were available to people in that region.

two-dimensional artform. We have professionally mounted

These highly-prized beads reached southern Africa in small

some of the pieces as they would have been worn on the

quantities through internal trade. After European settlement at

body, resulting in not only more accurate visual displays of

the Cape, imported glass beads became more plentiful. When

the beadwork but as magnificent sculptural objects to grace

traders started to operate among the various local groups,

any art collection.

prices came down and the craft of beadwork developed rapidly.

While Westernization has all but ended the beading

In addition to glass beads, natural objects such as seeds, shells,

traditions that flourished and produced wearable

pieces of root, grass, bone, ivory, claws, horns and the teeth of

masterpieces of design and color, we hope this catalog

animals were used, as were beads made of metal or fired clay.

kindles your interest in these exceptional objects.

Beading was primarily the domain of women, while the men carved wooden objects such as milk pails, headrests

Dori Rootenberg

and knobkerries for utilitarian use. The use of beads was

new york city, october 2021

i n t r o d u c t i o n

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North Nguni man

father aegidus muller, marianhill mission, c 1890’s

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D e di cat e d to Je re m y Sabi ne Your deep knowledge and passion for the beadwork of southern Africa and your generosity of spirit is sorely missed. daniel & dori



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WOMAN’S APRON ZULU, SOUTH AFRICA Late 19th century Glass beads, string, brass buttons Height: 8 in; Circumference: 34 in PROVENANCE

Private collection UK

Rectangular apron skirts were commonly worn by Zulu women and their South African neighbors, and were as lavishly decorated as the rest of the region’s beadwork. This example shows a high amount of detail in its striped waistband and main panel, as well as the elaborate fringe. Sewn to a black woven backing, the red, pink, and green beads used here are handsomely emphasized. The host of brass buttons at the base of the fringe, swinging freely when in movement, would have helped this skirt catch the ear as well as the eye.

woman’s apron

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woman’s apron


woman’s apron

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woman’s apron


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MARRIED WOMAN’S APRON, ITJORHOLO NDEBELE, SOUTH AFRICA Mid-20th century Glass beads, hide, thread Height: 27 in; Width: 25 in PROVENANCE

Deaccessioned from a New York corporate art collection. Private collection, New York

Ndebele women made and wore a variety of beaded aprons to communicate their stages of life. On her wedding day, and afterward until she bore a child, a woman would wear the itjorholo, a large apron with five hanging, fingerlike panels symbolizing the children she will bear. Created by her mother-in-law, the apron was traditionally made of animal skin and covered over almost its entire front surface with thousands of tiny white beads, with the addition of a bold, colored design in the main rectangular panel. The Ndebele are known for decorating their homes with geometric wall paintings, and the abstract, rectilinear design seen in this example, depicting a homestead, echoes such paintings. These types of geometric designs became popular on itjorholo around the mid-twentieth century. Many aprons were once decorated with valuable brass beads, signifying wealth, but they were often removed before the itjorholo was sold.

Ndebele Woman

constance stuart larrabee, c 1940’s courtesy smithsonian museum

m a r r i e d w o m a n ’ s a p r o n , i tj o r h o lo

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m a r r i e d w o m a n ’ s a p r o n , i tj o r h o lo


m a r r i e d w o m a n ’ s a p r o n , i tj o r h o lo

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m a r r i e d w o m a n ’ s a p r o n , i tj o r h o lo


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WEDDING TRAIN, INYOKA NDEBELE, SOUTH AFRICA First half 20th century Glass beads, sinew, safety pins Length: 68 in; Width: 7 in PROVENANCE

David Lewin, London

The styles of Ndebele beaded clothing and ornaments have remained constant over the last several centuries. Until 1940, Ndebele beadwork was predominantly white, incorporating simple geometric designs in a limited range of colors. The beautiful wedding train (inyoka) offered here reflects that philosophy, presenting an almost unbroken swath of brilliant white punctuated by a pair of delicate, multicolored designs. Two additional, smaller designs accent the ends of the train. The exquisite balance of minimalist design and intricate detail shown in this piece, along with the remarkable care invested in its creation, fully exhibits the artistic mastery of southern African beadworkers.

Ndebele Bride with Attendants

alfred duggan-cronin, c. 1930’s

w e d d i n g t r a i n , i n yo k a

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w e d d i n g t r a i n , i n yo k a


w e d d i n g t r a i n , i n yo k a

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w e d d i n g t r a i n , i n yo k a


w e d d i n g t r a i n , i n yo k a

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w e d d i n g t r a i n , i n yo k a


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MAN’S PRESTIGE CROWN SOUTHEAST AFRICA Mid to late 19th century European glass beads, wood, hide, bone, leather strips, cocoon or seed pods, red pigment, other organic material Height (including fringe): 4 in; Width: 8 in PROVENANCE

Parures de Tête

exhibition catalog, musée dapper, paris september 25 2003 – july 11, 2004

Peter Adler, London Nicholas G. Maritz Collection, South Africa Karel Nel Collection, South Africa P U B L I C AT I O N H I S TO R Y:

accompanying exhibition catalog as Xhosa, South Africa.

Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau & Iris Hahner, Parures de Tête:

Published again in Relics of War: A Collection of 19th

Hairstyles and Headdresses, Musée Dapper, 2003

Century Artefacts from British South Africa and Southern

Nicholas G. Maritz, Relics of War: A Collection of 19th Century

Rhodesia in 2008, it was cataloged as South Nguni, a

Artefacts from British South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, 2008, p. 96

broader southern African attribution. We have consulted with a number of leading scholars and beadwork dealers to confirm these attributions and have been unable to

This magnificent piece was created to adorn the head of a

establish a precise attribution. While the beaded pods are

powerful man and appears to be the only known example

adorned with typical Mpondo (South Nguni) bead colors

of its kind. The front of the crown is composed of a row

and patterns, many of the larger beads on the fringe are

of rounded forms reminiscent of capsules or cocoons and

not found on South Nguni, or in fact any South African,

woven over seed pods, set flush against one another and

beaded objects. The braided leather cord is also anomalous,

beaded in a striking palette of alternating bright white and

as is the overall construction of the crown’s band. Like

cobalt blue. The back half of the headpiece is covered with

many objects that came to the antiques market in the

a facing of rods set closely together. A single rod is carved

United Kingdom, having been collected and brought back

from bone while the remainder are wood. Below hangs a

by missionaries, soldiers and other travelers, the collection

dense fringe, detailed with a fantastic variety of heirloom

history of many of these objects was never documented or

beads made of glass and other materials, in which no two

was lost over time. Perhaps one day a precise attribution will

strands are alike.

be uncovered, but for now this exceptionally beautiful and

Exhibited in Parures de Tête: Hairstyles and Headdresses, Musée Dapper, 2003, the crown was listed in the

undoubtedly historical headpiece remains a mystery yet to be unraveled.

man’s prestige crown

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man’s prestige crown


man’s prestige crown

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man’s prestige crown


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RIDING CROP SOTHO PEOPLE, LESOTHO Late 19th century Glass beads, wood, fabric, hide, thread Length (including keeper): 21 in PROVENANCE

Private collection, UK

The horse was introduced to South Africa in the seventeenth century with the advent of the earliest Dutch settlers. In time, horses became widespread in the region, used for both labor and recreation. This beautiful riding crop is reflective of the most decorative tastes in South African horse culture. It is lavishly beaded down its full length in an attractive palette of light blue, pink, black, white, and red, deployed in a variety of patterns. The handle and midsection of the crop show chevron and zigzag motifs, while the tapering end is wrapped with a helical pattern that is accented with light yellow beads. Just above the handle is a bulbous section with a number of spherical bead clusters attached with hide, which would provide the rider with a more stable grip.

riding crop

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riding crop


riding crop

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riding crop


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FRAMED GROUP OF BEADWORK ZULU, SOUTH AFRICA Late 19th century European glass beads, sinew, fabric Belt: Length 27 in, Width 1 ½ in Armlet: Width: 6 in; Height: 4 1/1 in Waistband: Width 24 in; Height 4 ½ in PROVENANCE

Colonel George William Maunsell (1859–1937) By descent to his daughter, Aileen Edith Pauline Gell OBE. (1895–1986) Hopton Hall, Wirksworth, Derbyshire, UK Sotheby’s Chester, Sale of the Principal Contents of Hopton Hall, Wirkshire, September 5, 1989

The Zulu and their neighbors often wore beadwork in ensembles, with overlapping pieces that sometimes hung

Gell, O.B.E., Hopton Hall, Wirksworth, Derbyshire.’ This group of beadwork was collected in South Africa in

in several layers. The fine set of women’s garb presented

1881 by Colonel George William Maunsell while fighting in

here illustrates the vivid display of such combinations.

the First Boer War. A career soldier and officer in the British

Beaded in a beautiful palette of pink, black, and green with

Army, Maunsell served in numerous campaigns in South

white delineations, the alternating patterns used provide an

Africa, Egypt, and Sudan, and in the First World War. He

exciting theme of contrast and an impression of vigorous

held various appointments throughout the years, including

energy. The set is mounted on an original late 19th/early 20th

Justice of the Peace for London and the title of Companion

century frame. Inscribed in ink on the back of the frame is a

in the Order of St. Michael and St. George. Apart from his

description reading ‘Zulu Ladies Dress, Zululand 1891, G.W.

military exploits, he is best remembered for his authorship

Maunsell.’ An old typed label is also present, inscribed ‘Mrs.

of The Fisherman’s Vade Mecum.

framed group of beadwork

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framed group of beadwork


framed group of beadwork

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framed group of beadwork


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NURSING MOTHER’S NECKLACE ZULU, SOUTH AFRICA Late 19th century Glass beads, tamboti wood, sinew, brass button Width: 2 in; Circumference: 18 in PROVENANCE

Adam Prout, London

This beautiful Zulu necklace, with its subtly dramatic palette of white, black and brown, would have been worn by a nursing mother. Narrow bundles of poisonous tamboti (Spirostachys africana) wood, a material prized for its pleasing aroma and used in similar nursing necklaces by the Mfengu of the Eastern Cape, are interposed between sections of beads. Some South African peoples believed sexual relations between a wife and husband during this early period of motherhood would negatively affect the child, and nursing necklaces symbolized the mother’s status, communicating it clearly to others in the community. In eras when polygamy was common, a husband would sleep with a second or third wife during this time.

n u r s i n g m ot h e r ’ s n e c k l a c e

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n u r s i n g m ot h e r ’ s n e c k l a c e


n u r s i n g m ot h e r ’ s n e c k l a c e

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n u r s i n g m ot h e r ’ s n e c k l a c e


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BAG DRAKENSBERG REGION, SOUTH AFRICA 19th century Glass beads, fabric, brass buttons Height: 5 in; Width: 5 in (bag only) PROVENANCE

Andres Moraga Textiles

A rather unusual and dynamic diagonal grid pattern distinguishes this beautifully designed bag. The bag itself is beaded in a speckled style that softens the alternating hues of red, green, and black, while the coloration on the bundled strands of the strap stands out more boldly. Details in aqua, pink, red, and white are found in clusters along the strap and at the bottom fringe of the bag.

bag

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bag


bag

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bag


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WOMAN’S PUBIC APRON, IPHOCO MFENGU, SOUTH AFRICA Late 19th or early 20th century Glass beads, sinew, buttons Panel: Width: 8 in; Height: 5 ½ in PROVENANCE

Private collection, UK

Dense, rectangular, tapestry-like panels are prevalent devices in Mfengu beadwork, and can be found in a variety of sizes on necklaces and other adornments. This fine senior teenage girl’s apron features one large frontal panel fastened with buttons to a fringed waistband. Bright diamond motifs stand out vividly on the dark blue field of the apron, and are echoed in more subtle fashion along the length of the white waist. In contrast to the inkciyo, it is worn on top of the skirt so as to be seen by others in the community.

w o m a n ’ s p u b i c a p r o n , i p h o co

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w o m a n ’ s p u b i c a p r o n , i p h o co


w o m a n ’ s p u b i c a p r o n , i p h o co

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w o m a n ’ s p u b i c a p r o n , i p h o co


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SWALLOWTAIL-SHAPED UNDERGARMENT, INKCIYO Xhosa, South Africa Mid-19th century Glass beads, sinew, hide, brass rings Height: 14 in; Width: 5 ½ in PROVENANCE

David Lewin, London E X H I B I T I O N H I S TO R Y

Southern Africa by Design, Clayarch Gimhae Museum, Korea. April 2007 – September 2007. Illustrated in exhibition catalog, p83.

Amongst the rarest and most desirable items of beadwork from southern Africa, the swallow-tailed Inkciyo was designed to adorn a woman’s pubic area, with some descriptions suggesting that it was worn under an apron or skirt. The two lower ‘prongs’ of the Inkciyo are believed to symbolise the vulva, while the use of white beads, vividly contrasted by an alternating use of black, is intended to suggest purity. Of the few swallow-tail Inkciyo held in museums and private collections, this is the only known example with loops of brass rings, shells, and beads attached at the tips of the prongs. An example in the British Museum (Museum number Af1954,+23.170) has similar small brass rings, albeit on the apron string. The garment retains its original strap of brass rings strung on hide.

Returning from Work

thomas baines, oil on canvas, 1873

s wa l lo w ta i l - s h a p e d u n d e r g a r m e n t , i n k c i yo

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s wa l lo w ta i l - s h a p e d u n d e r g a r m e n t , i n k c i yo


s wa l lo w ta i l - s h a p e d u n d e r g a r m e n t , i n k c i yo

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s wa l lo w ta i l - s h a p e d u n d e r g a r m e n t , i n k c i yo


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DANCE WANDS/STRIGILS NGONI, MALAWI Late 19th century Glass beads, iron, fiber, sinew Length: 22 in PROVENANCE

Laurent Granier, France (with dark beads) Private collection, UK (with diamond motifs)

Beyond wearable items, a variety of hand-held implements were the focus of South African beadworkers’ handiwork. The pair of objects presented here are handsomely decorated with diamond and floret motifs in a predominantly blue palette. With their blunted, tapering iron heads, their use is somewhat ambiguous. Very similar examples are held in both the National Museum of Scotland and the British Museum and are described in those collections as ‘spears,’ but we believe them to be a kind of dance wand and/or strigil (a strigil or sweat scraper was used as a method of cleaning sweat off the skin since both water and cloth were scarce).

d a n c e wa n d s / s t r i g i l s

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d a n c e wa n d s / s t r i g i l s


d a n c e wa n d s / s t r i g i l s

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d a n c e wa n d s / s t r i g i l s


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CHILD FIGURE, NGWANA ’A MODULA SOTHO, SOUTH AFRICA OR LESOTHO Late 19th or early 20th century Glass beads, cloth, fiber Height: 8 in PROVENANCE

David Lewin, London The Conru Collection

In a number of South African societies, beaded fertility dolls are made by women and given to young girls as part of their initiation rites. Their primary power and function is to promote conception, though their full significance is complex and highly personal, subject to a degree of secrecy. While they are considered children and are sensitively cared for by their young mothers, the manner of their adornment suggests the garb of an adult woman, expanding their symbolism to encompass not just a future child, but a new mother and a fully realized human being. The domed, cylindrical forms of these dolls’ heads and upper bodies have been suggested by some scholars to be phallic in nature, and the male principle being clothed in womanly garments can be seen as symbolizing both the union of the

Ndebele bride at Mokopane (Potgietersrust), Limpopo alfred duggan-cronin, c. 1930’s

sexes and the merging of flesh and bones in the creation of new life. The uses and customs of these dolls vary between cultures, but they commonly figure in dances, and sometimes play a role as courtship gifts. While they are

they are never kept indefinitely. In some cases, the doll may be returned to the shrine of the spirit that activated it before the mother became pregnant. The doll presented here is a particularly fine example

cherished by their mothers for a significant period of time,

due to its age, well-preserved condition, and rich layers of

until their first pregnancy or birth and sometimes beyond,

beadwork.

c h i l d f i g u r e , n g wa n a ’ a m o d u l a

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c h i l d f i g u r e , n g wa n a ’ a m o d u l a


c h i l d f i g u r e , n g wa n a ’ a m o d u l a

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c h i l d f i g u r e , n g wa n a ’ a m o d u l a


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UNDER APRON MFENGU, LADY FRERE DISTRICT, EASTERN CAPE First half 20th century Glass beads, hide, brass rings, fiber Height (including fringe): 7 in; Width: 10 in PROVENANCE

Julie Ogle, UK

The Inkciyo is an apron-like garment specifically made for girls who have reached their initiation to womanhood. Amongst the Thembu and Xhosa people, when a girl begins menstruating, she withdraws for a whole month from the members of her community, going into seclusion and becoming a Ntonjane, a term most closely analogous to the metamorphosis of a pupa into a butterfly. During this important time, the girl is instructed in the tasks, accepted behavior, customs and responsibilities with which a woman has to comply in her culture. Usually, a woman from her father’s family, for instance an aunt, will guide her during this period of instruction. She beads her own Inkciyo, or cache sexe, which is the only garment she is permitted to wear, except for a blanket. After the passing of one month in seclusion, a celebration and feast welcome her back into the company of the community and her new status as a woman. After the rites have concluded, the newly recognized woman will continue to wear the garment as underwear, where it would be hidden from view. It replaced the earlier swallow-tail shaped undergarments.

under apron

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under apron


under apron

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under apron


under apron

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under apron


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NECKLACE NGONI, MALAWI Late 19th century Glass beads Circumference: 32 in PROVENANCE

Private collection, UK

Necklaces of a single strand or cord such as this example would most often have been worn as just one of a multitude of necklaces, each piece making its visual contribution to a fantastic display of color and pattern. The beading here has been applied with great care, flowing over the cord in a twisting, helical fashion. Two thicker, cylindrical elements punctuate the necklace’s silhouette and act as focus points, both showing diamond motifs of pink and white on black.

necklace

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necklace


necklace

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necklace


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WOMAN’S BREAST GARMENT, INCEBETHA XHOSA, SOUTH AFRICA 19th century Glass beads, hide, thread Height: 31 in; Width: 12 in PROVENANCE

Henry Kiell Ayliff Born in Grahamstown, South Africa in 1871, Ayliff emigrated to Europe in the 1890s and studied painting at the Royal Academy in London. He later became a theater director, staging the first productions of George Bernard Shaw’s plays. Thence by descent to his son and granddaughter

Relatively common among Xhosa-speaking groups, beaded garments of this type were worn fastened across a woman’s breasts, cascading down the front of the body in the manner of a veil, sometimes as low as the knee. Unlike the smaller, more common breast covers that were sewn from cloth or leather, or which took the form of more compact tapestries of beadwork, garments such as this example were worn only on festive occasions, likely favored for the free and dramatic movement of the beadwork during dances. Chief Mgolombane Sandile’s Wives

samuel baylis barnard, carte de visite c. 1870’s

woman’s breast garment, incebe tha

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woman’s breast garment, incebe tha


woman’s breast garment, incebe tha

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woman’s breast garment, incebe tha


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NECKLACE, ISIYEYE MFENGU, SOUTH AFRICA Late 19th or early 20th century Glass beads, sinew, button Width: 3 in; Circumference: 32 in

worn in concert with other layers of beadwork to maximize PROVENANCE

their dazzling visual effect. An old handwritten label is

Private collection, UK

attached, reading (incorrectly), ‘Pondo necklet.’ Though women wore beadwork most often in South Africa, men also donned beaded pieces and would receive

This fine Mfengu necklace covered the upper breast in the

them as tokens of affection from the women who made

manner of a gorget. Beaded in intricately linked rows of

them. The quantity of beadwork worn by a man during

black, red, white, and two shades of blue, it would have been

festive occasions was a telling measure of his popularity.

Fingo Men and Women  photographer unidentified, c 1890’s

necklace, isiyeye

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necklace, isiyeye


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NECKLACE ZULU, SOUTH AFRICA Late 19th / early 20th century Glass beads, sinew, brass button, animal teeth Width: 1 ½ in; Circumference: 16 in PROVENANCE

Private collection, UK

Assembled with a refined eye for composition, this necklace belongs to a South African tradition of adornment created with animal teeth. For the tribes of South Africa, the teeth and claws of large predators, particularly felines, carried talismanic associations of power and prestige. The stark visual strength of the bundled black beadwork in this necklace contrasts beautifully with the three light trios of symmetrically positioned teeth, each emphasizing the other.

necklace

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necklace


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BRASS BEADS, IZINDONDO ZULU, SOUTH AFRICA Mid-19th century Brass, string Width: 1 in; Circumference: 14 in PROVENANCE

Private collection, UK

Weighty beads of brass were objects of wealth in traditional southern African societies. Attached to beadwork garments, they served as status signifiers and beautified the wearer’s ensemble. Commonly employed in groups, strung on fiber loops or fixed directly onto items of clothing, they were often removed and reclaimed by their owners when the garments were sold. Thus such details, once ubiquitous in their original context, are rarely seen in collection pieces. Presented here is a group of brass beads, darkened with age and assembled on a length of string. An old handwritten label is attached, reading ‘12 metal beads for necklace found at various places.’

brass beads, izindondo

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brass beads, izindondo


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NECKLACE XHOSA, SOUTH AFRICA Late 19th / early 20th century Glass beads, animal teeth, string (original sinew or thong lacking) Width: 2 ½ in; Circumference: 17 in PROVENANCE

Gillian Scott-Berning, South Africa

The elite among the North and South Nguni peoples often wore necklaces strung with leopard or lion claws, symbolic of the ferocious power of these animals. As big cats in the region were gradually hunted out and such claws were no longer readily available, a parallel tradition evolved of creating necklaces made with facsimile claws carved from pieces of bone. These necklaces were known to Zuluspeakers as amazipho. Among the Xhosa-speaking peoples, a bride’s outfit often included an animal-tooth necklace or a carved imitation. This necklace presents scores of teeth assembled in a powerful sunburst composition, interspersed

Chief Mgolombane Sandile’s Councillors

samuel baylis barnard, carte de visite c. 1870’s

with multicolored beads. Oftentimes the wild animal teeth were used as the center bands, with dog teeth being used to fill up the rest of the necklaces.

necklace

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necklace


necklace

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necklace


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WOMAN OR GIRL’S GARMENT ZULU, SOUTH AFRICA 19th century Glass beads, brass buttons, sinew, hide Height: 9 ½ in; Width: 17 in PROVENANCE

Phillips Auctioneers, London, 1996 Nicholas G. Maritz Collection, South Africa Karel Nel Collection, South Africa P U B L I C AT I O N H I S TO R Y

Nicholas Maritz, Relics of War: A Collection of 19th Century Artefacts from British South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, p. 212

This garment would have been worn on the torso as part of a multilayered beadwork ensemble. The front section and shoulder straps are designed with rows of rectangles in a bold palette of red, blue, and black, with horizontal white stripes. A more limited choice of colors is used on the speckled side bands. In the center of the garment is a vertical panel of conical brass buttons, symbolizing wealth. An old collection label, now missing, identified this piece as a ‘Zulu bride’s ornament.’

woman or girl’s garment

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woman or girl’s garment


woman or girl’s garment

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woman or girl’s garment


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WEDDING TRAIN, INYOKA NDEBELE, SOUTH AFRICA Mid-20th century Glass beads, sinew Height: 71 in; Width: 11 in PROVENANCE

Deaccessioned from a New York corporate art collection Private collection, New York

For the Ndebele people in southern Africa, beadwork holds

are found in murals painted on the sides of their homes.

significant social and symbolic meaning, particularly in

These murals are also painted primarily by women, and an

the lives of women. While in some African cultures both

intrinsic, evolving dialogue exists between the symbology

men and women are involved in beading, Ndebele women

of painting and beadwork, broadcasting and cementing the

are the sole designers and creators of these arts in their

female identity in Ndebele society.

own communities. Each garment is made by hand, and

Many beaded garments are worn on the body during

every characteristic of the piece signifies something about

important ceremonies and rituals. Along with veils

the wearer, such as age, social class, spiritual state, and

(isiyaya), Ndebele brides wear long trains called inyoka

marital status. Men do not traditionally bead unless they are

(meaning snake in isiNdebele), which are made of white

shamans, when they might bead items for their calling, but

beads woven together with string by their female relatives.

they often employ women who are skilled beaders to make

The patterns, length, and structure of the inyoka can signal

specific items for their use (source: Stephen Long, email

whether the bride will be the groom’s first wife, or if she is

correspondence). Beading is generally regarded as a female

still a virgin.

occupation and only recently have a few men decided to make beadwork curios for commercial purposes. Throughout many Nguni groups of Bantu language-

The inyoka presented here features two bold, geometric designs executed in blue, red, yellow, and green beads, and a third, smaller design on the rectangular tab at one

speaking peoples, the colors, patterns, and materials of

end. Additional details are present in the form of lines and

beadwork can be understood and interpreted as a kind

dashes in all four colors, and numerous rows of openwork

of coded language, and similarities are shared among

squares and rectangles are found adjacent to the colored

the numerous cultural groups in southern Africa. The

designs.

geometric designs of the Ndebele resemble patterns that

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BAG HLUBI, SOUTH AFRICA 19th century Glass beads, fabric, brass buttons Height: 5 in; Width: 4 ½ in (bag only)

Methods of beadcraft used for necklaces and decorative panels were combined in a more utilitarian, though no less decorative, mode to create small bags or purses. Suspended from the neck or slung across the body, they were used to carry tobacco, snuff, currency, and other sundry everyday items. This striped bag is designed with a soft pink and green color scheme, accented beautifully with intermittent groups of white and black bands along the strap. Three brass closure buttons have been thoughtfully worked in as special design elements of their own, reminiscent of semi-precious stones.

bag

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FOUR NECKLACES, IMIBHIJO ZULU, SOUTH AFRICA Late 19th century Glass beads,brass buttons, fiber cord, string Width: ½ in – 1 in; Circumference: 17 in – 20 in

The tubular beadwork necklace is a distinctive type of ornamentation in South Africa, and is vividly represented in its traditional style by this quartet of handsome Zulu examples. The construction of these necklaces, in which glass beads are sewn onto a flexible fiber core, enhances their durability and lends them a generous visual weight. A classic regional palette – white with accents in black and largely primary colors – shows especially brilliantly as the necklaces are grouped in an ensemble. Beadwork was typically worn in layers and in concert with multiple pieces, presenting a detailed and eye-catching array.

Zulu woman

photographer unidentified, possibly george washington wilson, c 1890’s

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ART AND ANTIQUES FROM AFRICA, OCEANIA AND THE AMERICAS

www.jacarandatribal.com dori@jacarandatribal.com T +1 646-251-8528 New York City, NY 10025

PRICES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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four necklaces, imibhijo

Profile for Jacaranda Tribal

Jacaranda The Art of Southern African Beadwork  

Jacaranda The Art of Southern African Beadwork  

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