|Other Names||Love Letter|
|Type of Object||Glass|
|Made In||South Africa|
|Approximate Age||Late 19th-Early 20th Century|
|Overall Condition||Fair. Some of our beads have traveled at least three continents, and have graced numerous owners. Small chips, corrosion, and pitting are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.|
|Damage/Repair||Holes, missing beads, dirt.|
|Strand Length||3.25 x 2 inches.|
These are from the collection of Dori Angus Verhoeg from Mbabane, Eswatini. Dori was a beloved friend of ours. We met her in 1994 when we lived in Southern Africa, driving around with our three youngest children in a used camper van. We met Dori at the wonderful gallery she ran, Indiglizi. She died several years ago, and her children, Anthony and Sonia Angus made her collection available to us when they closed the gallery this year due to COVID.
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, pp51-53
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