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Zulu Beadwork Married Woman Apron South African Art

Product #: 74801
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Title Zulu Beadwork Married Woman Apron South African Art
Type of Object Beadwork, Apron
Country of Origin South Africa
People Zulu
Materials Cotton cloth, Glass Beads
Approximate Age Mid 20th Century
Dimensions 27 x 14 inches.
Overall Condition Good
Damage/Repair Dust, minor stain, and general wear.

Additional Information: Superb condition. This is probably older beadwork which has been resewn onto a newer cotton apron. Cotton cloth apron decorated with Green, black, white, lue, and  red beads. The base textile is a black cotton cloth. See South Africa Tribal Life Today by Morris and Levitas, plate 59 and Speaking with Beads by Morris, page 46.

Zulu beadwork has been valued as currency, decoration, and also 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.

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.

I have examined this piece and agree with the description
Niangi Batulukisi, PhD