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Gallery Ezakwantu

African Art  - Art Africain - Tribal Art -  菲洲艺术 - Afrikanische Kunst

 

Central and Southern African Tribal Art

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 African Beadwork - Beaded Adornment

Artisanat de Perles Africaines

 

Afrikanische Perlenarbeit - Afrikanische Perle - Africa Adorned

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Sotho Thethana Apron

 

Titana Apron - Lesotho -  Basotho Apron

 

 

 

Sotho Apron 743

 

The thethana was worn by young Basotho girls from the age of 4 or 5, until their entry into adulthood. These beautiful pieces functioned as an undergarment, and were sometimes worn under a leather back-skirt.

 

 

 

The fringe is made from the leaves of the gazenia plant, the fibers of which are painstakingly stripped by hand, and braided into small strands. The knotting of each strand helps keep the various fibers together, and also creates a striking visual design in the overall piece. Thethana design varies according to clan affiliation, and may include the addition of ochre (above), giving the fibers a beautiful red hue.

 

 

      

 

                                 Duggan-Cronnen - Before 1933                                    Photographer Unknown

 

Historically, a girl's thethana was made by a female relative, most often by her mother or grandmother. Due to the method of construction, a single piece might take from twelve to eighteen months to complete. As the young girl progressed in age and status, she would be given new garments, which increased in length, until at last she took on the adornment of an adult in Basotho society.

 

 

 

Sotho Apron 743

 

Often, the most ornate thethanas were worn as part of an elaborate ensemble by newly initiated Basotho women. Such examples, like the image shown here, included intricately beaded panels, the colors and patterns of which often coincided with other pieces of adornment completing the outfit.

 

 

 

 

                      

 

 

 

Beaded Collars - Ithumu
 

Mfengu - Thembu - Xhosa

 

 

 

Madiba - Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

 

Above- Nelson Mandela wears a beaded collar. The photograph was released by the ANC during the 1960's. Images of Mandela were banded by the apartheid government. This and others were made public in 1990.

 

 

 

Collar 'A'

 

The Xhosa (and related people) of the Eastern Cape wore large beaded collars. The fashion was popular with both genders of all age groups.

 

 

  

 

Circa 1950's - Thembu men and women - Eastern Cape

 

 

 

Collar 'B'

 

Full chest necklaces announced the wearers status, young and old.

 

 

Collar 'C'

 

Above - a Thembu example. Contact us for prices.

 

 

 

 

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Beaded Front Aprons

 

Thembu and Mfengu Aprons

 

 

 

  

Apron 'A'

 

Thembu beaded aprons were called inkciyo and worn by both young girls and women.

 

 

 

Apron 'B'

 

Our collection (above and below) was mounted onto iron stands for display.

 

 

 

Apron 'C'

 

The brass washers found on many of the belts were called izingqwemesha.

 

 

 

Apron 'D'

 

The Thembu wore these aprons as underpants under their skirts called umbhaco.

 

 

        

Field Images - First half 20th Century

 

Prior to the 1940's, inkciyo were worn on their own. (upper right image)

 

 

 

Apron 'E'

 

Most beads are Venetian in origin and often predate 1920.

 

 

 

Apron 'F'

 

 

 

Apron 'G'

 

 

 

Apron 'H'

 

The apron above called inkciyo, was collected amongst the Mfengu people. It is decorated with glass beads in traditional Fingo color, brass rings - washers and leather straps. Inkciyo translates as underpants.

 

 

 

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Zulu Beaded Apron

 

Nongoma Area

 

 

 

This is a very large, early collected apron made with glass seed beads, from the Nongoma area of KwaZulu Natal. It was part of  an estate sale that included many beaded objects dating to the 1940's, which explains the use of  beads that are far smaller then most other examples.

 

The Nongoma area is associated with with Zulu royal court and currently has four 'royal palaces' said to belong to Goodwill Zwelithini. Beadwork from this area was primarily made with yellow, green, red and black beads on a white background. Dazzling geometric designs were created with the use of the 'brick stitch'. The larger  four faceted diamond shapes are said to represent traditional Zulu shields.

 

 

 

 

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Xhosa Beaded Panel
 

Blanket Pin or Cloak Pin

 

"Ithumbu" - Xhosa Beadwork

 

 

 

ex / Bruno Walters Collection

 

This beaded pin, often referred to as  'love letters, is so large that it is actually a beaded panel. The style was popular around Cofimvaba and likely dates to the 1940's.

 

 

 

 

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Xhosa Nursing Charm  isixhoxho

 

 

 

Nursing Charm - 'B'

 

Nursing charms or isixhoxho, had medicinal qualities and were  worn to broadcast the wearer was a nursing mother. The adornment was accepted throughout the Eastern Cape tribes as a mother's protection. Even if a baby was not with her - the necklace ensured that no one would molest the woman, even at a beer drink. Our example (A) dates to the 1950's.

 

 

 

 

 

This image was taken at Uncle Van Vasco da Gama van Blommenstein shop in at Mbiza Transkei between 1904 and 1905. The lady seen in the center of the image above right, sports a nursing charm.

 

 

 

Nursing Charm - 'B'

 

This example dates to the 1940's and was part of the Bruno Walter's collection.

 

 

 

 

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Ba Tonka Skirts

 

Zambia - Zimbabwe

 

 

Ba Tonga Man and Woman - 1950

 

The Kariba dam was built between northern and southern Rhodesia and completed in 1960. At the time, it was the largest man made body of water ever built. The Ba Tonka had lived on both sides of the river Zambezi. The dam forced their relocation from the river and valleys they had hunted and fished for centuries.

 

 

 

Example 'A'

 

Traditional back skirts of the Ba Tonka women are no longer found in the field.

 

 

 

Woman's back skirt - circa 1980

 

 

Example 'B'

 

 

Ba Tonka girls wearing beaded skirts at a festive occasion, circa - first half 20th century.

 

 

 

 

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Ndebele Beadwork

 

Beaded Blanket Irari - Nguba - Ngurara

 

ex -  Esther Mahlangu Collection

 

 

 

Ndebele Blanket - Collection Ester Mahlangu

 

The Ndebele of South Africa are superb bead workers. Their beadwork is remarkable for its variety, colours and intricate designs. Beadwork became a cultural icon for the Ndebele, as did their mural art. Beaded attire is considered a sign of wealth and beauty. Designs served social functions as markers of cultural identity and status. Ndebele beadwork designs were initially dominated by a predominantly white background, which included only a very few randomly placed geometric shapes. From the 1940's, Ndebele aesthetics changed. Women began to include a wide range of colours and overwhelming their compositions with geometric and figurative motifs from everyday life.

 

The blankets themselves grew from traditional hide capes of the 19th century called Irari - Nguba or Ngurara. Such blankets are worn by married women only. The traditional striped red, yellow, green and blue trade blankets are called “Middleburg blankets” because the style was popular in Middleburg, the town where Ester Mahlangu was born (November 11th 1935). The actual beading of a blanket is undertaken over many years and revels events about the owners' life. It represents her social status and testifies to the woman's artistic abilities, considerable financial resources and high social standing when considering her ability to dedicate numerous hours to creating the artwork.
 

Our Ndebele married woman’s ceremonial blanket has four long panels of beadwork decoration. It was sold at auction from the collection of Ester Mahlangu, who is an international South African artist. A brief biography follows.

 

 

Click thumbs to view Ester Mahlangu murals available from ۷gallery. 

 

Ester Mahlangu is a self-taught artist specializing in traditional murals. She is a remarkable woman who in 1989 and against all odds, travelled to France where she exhibited at Les Magiciens de la Terre. This was a time when political turmoil at home and sanctions abroad made international participation all but impossible for South African artists. Beside South Africa, Esther Mahlangu has exhibited all over Europe, the US, Australia and Japan. Some of her most famous murals have been exhibited at the New Identities Exhibition in the Bocum Museum in Germany, at the Virgin Atlantic's music store in Times Square, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC and at the Civic Theatre in Johannesburg.

 

 

 

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Ndebele Wedding Veil - Nyoga

 

 

Ndebele Women -  1920's - Ivy's Album Collection

 

The Ndebele bride wore a long train with her bridal costume called an Nyoga, which translates to 'snake'. The Nyoga was attached to the brides shoulders and trailed down to the ground, making for a snake-like motion when danced. (men - pay attention!)

 

 

 

This Nyoga was handed down by  mother to daughter as a heirloom no less then three times. At 187 centimeters, is an exceptionally long example. Sections were inserted before weddings. The color of the 'TH' section was in fashion during the 1950's and the use of the letters indicates the owner lived near Heidelberg, South Africa. The darker green-purple-blue and black beaded section near the bottom was the color style of the 1970's. (below right) The open rectangular sections near the bottom and the predominantly white beadwork 'overall' dates to the 1920's - the time when Ndebele beadwork initially flourished.

 

Click either image to enlarge.

 

 

 

The white flared triangular finial was a popular motive during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is also found in early collected Khoi / San and Tswana / Bechwana beadwork.

 

 

 

 

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Ndebele Apron

 

Called - Pepetu

 

 

 

A Pepetu is a small beaded apron worn by a young Ndebele maiden after completing a period of seclusion. The rite if a part of female initiation.

 

 

Ivy's Album Collection

 

The image displays Ndebele fashion - circa 1940.

 

 

 

Rear Surface

 

Pepetu's traditionally were made by a girl's mother and worn with a thimba, or back skirt.  Predominately white aprons often date to the 1920.

 

 

 

 

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Ntwane Back Apron or Skirt

 

Called an Ntepa

 

 

 

 

This is a heavily beaded - rarely seen fine quality example of an Ntwane woman's leather beaded back skirt of the Ntwane. The chevron pattern along the upper edge is typical of early collected North Sotho - Bechwana aprons. Fine detail highlights the swallowtail ends.
 

 

 © Peter Magubane  - Married Ntwane women wearing beaded back skirts at a celebration.

 

 

 

 

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Trade Beads - Slave Beads

 

 

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Slave beads (often called Trade beads) were otherwise decorative glass beads used between the 16th and 20th century as a currency to exchange for goods, services and slaves (hence the name). Made to ease the passage of European explorers and then traders mainly across the African continents, the beads were made throughout Europe although the Venetians dominated production. Trade beads are also found in the United States and Canada, and throughout Latin America. The production of slave (trade) beads became so popular that literally tons of these beads were used for this purpose. Beads were used as ballast in slave/trade ships for the outbound trip. The beads and other trade items were exchanged for human cargo as well as ivory, gold and other goods desired in Europe and around the world. The beads traded were not of a set design, but were produced according to demand. Millefiori (thousand flower) beads from Venice, Italy were one of the most commonly traded beads, and are commonly known as "African trade beads." They were produced by creating flowers or stripes from glass canes, that were then cut and molded onto a core of solid color. Beads such as the kiffa beads of Mauritania are thought to have resulted from women creating powdered glass beads to mimic the appearance of millefiori beads.

The success of this form of currency can largely be attributed to the high intrinsic value African people put upon decorative items. Africans often used beads for currency, (often referred to as African money) and wealth storage, and social status could be easily determined by the quality, quantity and style of jewellery worn. This created a high demand for trade beads in Africa.

 

Click Thumbnails for Larger Images

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Most of the seven strings of trade beads on offer date to 19th century Venice, though the brass examples with cosmological symbols were made by the Baule of the Ivory coast. Carnelian beads were made in Bohemia, India and the Sahara. This group is offered as "a collection".

 

Chevron Necklace

 

 

This rare 4 - 6 layered Chevron necklace of 28 beads has a circumference of 34 cms, or + - 13 inches. The largest bead (center) has a 7.5 cm circumference, or + - 3 inches.

 

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

Chevron Beads are special glass beads, originally made for trade in the New World and the slave trade in Africa by glassmakers in Italy as far back as the early 15th century. They are composed of many consecutive layers of colored glass. The initial core is formed in a star-shaped mold, and can have anywhere between five and fifteen points. The next layer of glass conforms to that star shape. Several layers of glass can be applied (typically four to seven layers), either star-shaped or smooth. After all layers have been applied, the glass is drawn out to the desired thickness and when cooled, cut into short segments showing the resulting star pattern at their ends. The ends can be ground to display the chevron pattern. Chevron beads are traditionally composed of red, blue, and white layers, but modern chevrons can be found in any color combination. Original beads made for trade to the New World and Africa were typically composed of green, white, blue and red layers.

 

Chevron beads are a specific, historically important type of trade bead. Africa was not the only outlet for these beads. As far back as Christopher Columbus' expeditions, these beads were traded to Native Americans for goods and slaves.

 

Chevron beads are very popular collectors' items and they are still highly valued in present day West Africa, where they continue to be worn for prestige and ceremonial purposes, and occasionally buried with the dead.

 

 

 

Learn more about Trade Beads here.

 

 

 

Or visit our Contemporary Jewellery link here. 

 

 

 

 

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Turkana Apron

 

Kenya - Rift Valley - Lake Turkana

 

 

Turkana Girl - Mirella Ricciardi - Lake Rudolf 1968

 

The Turkana live in north western Kenya and are nomadic pastoralists. They have elaborate clothing and adornment. Clothing is used to distinguish between age groups, development stages, occasions and status of individuals.

 

 

 

Young girls wear beaded front aprons built upon leather. The beads of this example are attached by old fiber and date to the 1920's.

 

 

Turkana Girls - Mirella Ricciardi - 1968

 

 

 

 

 

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Kuba Beaded Belt - Kuba Beadwork

 

Democratic Republic Congo - DRC

 

 

 

Royal Kuba Masquerades - Nsheng - Kasai - Congo - 1909

 

The Kuba Kingdom is located between the Kasai - Lulua and Sankuru rivers in Western Kasai - DRC - Congo. The Bushong clan rules over other groups which include the Bulang, Bieng, Coofa, Cwa, Ibaam, Iding, Kaam, Kel, Kete, Maluk, Mbengi, Ngende, Ngombe, Ngongo, Pyang, Pyang Kayuweng and the Shoowa or Shobwa.

 

 

 

 

The glass beads on this old Kuba belt were applied to fine raffia fabric produced on a loom. They are Venetian and date to 1920 or before.

 

 

      

 

 

Generally Kuba court art celebrates status and prestige - manifestations of social and political hierarchy. Wealth and rank are expressed in extensive displays beaded regalia which included belts and charms.

 

 

 

The beaded knot motif is replicated in Kuba textile design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galerie Ezakwantu

Southern African Tribal Art - African Art 

 

Central and Southern African Tribal Art

 

Art Africain      頂级菲洲艺术品中心     Afrikanische Kunst     Außereuropäische Kunst

 

 

 

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