Thursday, August 5, 2010

Between the Beads

The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida has an excellent exhibit called Between the Beads: Reading African Beadwork. Their explanation of the history and meaning of African beadwork is here. (As always, click on the photos if you want to see a larger version.)

Male Royal Ancestor Mask (Mbwoom)

Diviner’s Headdress

Elephant Mask

Hat (mpaan)

Beaded Crown (adenla)

Woman's Belt

Zulu beadwork traditions are fascinating because the colors, shapes, and patterns convey messages about courtship and marriage. You can read about the language of Zulu beadwork here.

The work below by a woman named Bongiswa is part of a great rural training and employment project called Ubuhle.


Harry said...

Fantastic art work! Thought the beaded crown (adenia)was especially beautiful (and about as ornate as you can get :-)

Must be a heckuva story behind that one.

Tabatha said...

Yes, I liked that a lot, too. This crown also has birds on it:
I found out from a Smithsonian site that "The gathering of the birds alludes to the spirits' world and the king's ability to mediate between the realms of the human beings and of the spirits." Cool! Here's the site:

M Pax said...

I love the headdress. Gorgeous work. Really amazing. They must have spent years making some of those things.

Harry said...

I like the other crown, too...but the beads on this one really make it special.

Thanks for the information about the birds and the spirit world. I think I shall commune more with the birds in our front yard now.