Page Loading




Gallery Ezakwantu

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


Central and Southern African Tribal Art

   Home                                                                       Visit our Gallery Thumbs                                                                     Contact



Scroll Down         




 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.





Contact us for individual prices.       Scroll Down





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.




Contact us for individual prices.       Scroll Down




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.





Contact us for individual prices.       Scroll Down






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.





Contact us for individual prices.       Scroll Down





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.





Contact us for individual prices.       Scroll Down





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.





Contact us for individual prices.       Scroll Down




Ndebele Beadwork


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.





Contact us for individual prices.       Scroll Down






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.





Contact us for individual prices.       Scroll Down





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.





Contact us for individual prices.       Scroll Down




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




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.





Contact us for prices.       Scroll Down






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






Contact us for prices.       Scroll Down





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




   Home                                                                                                                                                                                Contact



Visit our Gallery Thumbs:


African Adornment - African Axes - African Basketry - African Beadwork - African Beer Cups - African Beer Pots - Colonial Figures - African Containers - Contemporary African Art - African Costume - African Currency - African Dolls - African Figures - African Hair Combs - African Headdresses - African Wigs - African Headrests - African Neck Rests - African Masks - Masques Africains - African Meat Platters - African Milk Pails - Miscellaneous Objects African Musical Instruments - African Jewelry - African Jewellery - African Pipes - African Shields - African Snuff  Spoons - African Snuff Bottles - African Spoons - African Ladles - African Staffs - African Status Objects - African Stools - African Thrones - African Tobacco Bags - Central African Weapons - Southern African Weapons - North African Weapons - Other Weapons - Zulu Imbenge Pot Covers






Copyright © 2002 - 2015  / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED -  Web Design and Photography - Gallery Ezakwantu

















































































Hit Counter