This newly published book is by a Zulu woman, a friend of ours, who is perhaps the greatest living Zulu expert on the beadwork of her people. We have known her for fourteen years, and are honored to have been chosen to publish her book. She is pictured on the cover, wearing her grandmother's Sangoma regalia.
Most of the studies of African art available in this country have been written by outsiders. And, while these accounts can be informative, there is a level of understanding that only an insider can provide. For this reason, Africa Direct is proud to present Zulu Beadwork: Talk with Beads. Its author, Hlengiwe Dube, is a Zulu woman raised in a traditional family. She has been director of the African Art Centre in Durban, South Africa, for many years. Her relationship with Zulu beadwork is direct and personal, much of it drawn from her own experience or stories passed down by her mother and grandmother. In Zulu Beadwork: Talk with Beads, she makes her expertise available to readers everywhere. In an engaging, conversational style, she talks about the “unspoken words” of traditional beadwork designs. Each color of bead, and each combination of colors, creates a different message. From the white beads that assure a lover, “Whenever I see you my heart goes white as the milk of cattle when they are milked in the morning,” to the green beads that proclaim, “I am going to wait for my husband as he works in Johannesburg,” Hlengiwe Dube leads us through the fascinating complexities of beadwork messages. Illustrated throughout with beautiful color photographs and including chapters on historical and regional trends, Zulu Beadwork: Talk with Beads is a must-read for anyone interested in learning about African art from the people who create it.