Amulets size from right to left in the picture: 4" H. x 3"W- 3.5"H. x 2.5" W. - 5" H. x 2" W.- 4"H. x 4"W.- 8" H. x 2.75" W. - 6"H. x 3.5" W.- 8"H. x 3"W.- 3.5" H. x 2.5" W. - 5.5"H. x 3.75" W.
Provenance: From a collection of African-made beads and beadwork displayed at the South Dakota Art Museum in 2011.
Additional information: This extraordinary belt, made of glass beads and cowrie shells embroidered onto handwoven raffia fabric, was used to hold upon the voluminous raffia skirts worn by the King and dignitaries in the Kuba Kingdom in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This belt displays an exceptional and elaborate work of beads. It belonged to the royal circle and would hold a central place is a collection.
The prominent display of cowries in the royal costume emphasizes the ruler as by far the wealthiest person in the kingdom, so wealthy that he purportedly ate pulverized cowries as part of his diet. A king's raiment weighed as much as 185 pounds! The 130 titled individuals at court also had their own costume forms.
For more information, see Blier's ROYAL ARTS OF AFRICA. To see examples of Kuba beadwork, see Mack's EMIL TORDAY AND THE ART OF THE CONGO 1900-1909. Seesimilar examples in J. Cornet, ART ROYAL KUBA