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Zulu Beadwork Rope Necklace Africa 29 Inch

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Title Zulu Beadwork Rope Necklace Africa 29 Inch
Materials Beads, raffia, metal, string
Made In South Africa
Approximate Age Mid century
Overall Condition Good
People Zulu
Object Size 13 mm diameter
Necklace Length 29 inches. See picture with penny for size comparison.

Additional Information: Made by beading tightly around a cotton cloth wrapped coil of grass or length of rope(umgongqolozi). Possibly from Msinga area or Ngoma. See Speaking with beads by Morris, page 43.Umgunqulu / Rope necklaces were worn by young engage man and women from Msinga area. Kwa-Zulu Natal. The women will wear it at any day. It is a symbol of showing how much you miss your loved one. This example is of small size. It was probably worn by a young person. Such ropes could be very long than this example and would be worn longer or rolled two or three times around the neck. We've seen women wearing several of such beaded ropes around the neck. These ropes were also worn as head bands, or around the waist of youth.

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 expression as 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, p. 49

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