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Zulu Beadwork Love Letter South African Art

Regular Price: $75.00

Special Price: $45.00

Product #: 121390
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Title Zulu Beadwork Love Letter South African Art
Type of Object Beadwork
People Zulu
Approximate Age First half 20th century
Overall Condition Good
Damage/Repair Rusted surface on pins
Bead Size 6.5 x 1.5 inches. See picture with penny for size comparison (US penny is 19 mm diameter).

Additional Information:

Zulu beadwork has been valued as currency, as decoration, and as a marker of identity. Disingwayo the uncle of Shaka and Shaka himself, controlled the bead trade and monopolized not only the beads themselves but also the colors and designs available to groups within Shaka’s control. Beadwork became a status symbol and an important item of personal expressionas well. Stylistic variations of beadwork such as pattern, color and color sequence indicate area or group affiliation. Colors and patterns take on more personally expressive meanings as in the case of Zulu “love letters.” Recently beadwork has become a symbol of political identity as well, with color and pattern indicating political affiliation. Instead of beads being worn only by the conservative, traditional members of the community, wearing beadwork is increasingly being seen as reclaiming a cultural identity.

For similar piece see Hlengiwe Dube, ZULU BEADWORK.TALKING WITH BEADS, pp. 50,72-73

Recommended Reading: 

Hlengiwe Dube, ZULU BEADWORK.TALKING WITH BEADS, AfricaDirect, Inc., Denver, 2009, 112 p

Jean Morris (text by Eleanor Preston-White), SPEAKING WITH BEADS. ZULU ARTS FROM SOUTHERN AFRICA