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Neck Ornament (Ibheqe or Umphapheni)

Arts of Africa

On View: Great Hall, Southwest, 1st floor
Although beaded adornment using many materials existed in southern Africa well before contact with Europeans, elaborate glass beadwork made with small, uniform “seed beads” emerged with exposure to European trade beads and sewing techniques. By sewing beads together, Zulu women developed a new artistic tradition of making “bead fabric,” which often replaced clothing made from skins or cloth.

Different color and pattern combinations form a visual language that can identify the wearer’s ethnic group, gender, social status, romantic attachments, or other personal messages. This was a particularly important means of marking identity in the shifting social landscape of nineteenth- and twentieth-century South Africa. Today, wearing beadwork continues to be a means of self-expression throughout southern Africa.
CULTURE Zulu
MEDIUM Glass beads, sinew
DATES mid to late 19th century
DIMENSIONS 11 1/2 × 7 1/4 × 1/2 in. (29.2 × 18.4 × 1.3 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Great Hall, Southwest, 1st floor
EXHIBITIONS
ACCESSION NUMBER 45.125.10
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. Herman Eggers
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Zulu. Neck Ornament (Ibheqe or Umphapheni), mid to late 19th century. Glass beads, sinew, 11 1/2 × 7 1/4 × 1/2 in. (29.2 × 18.4 × 1.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Herman Eggers, 45.125.10. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 45.125.10_acetate_bw.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 45.125.10_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Beadwork neck ornament, consisting of a beaded strap to which is attached an almost square beadwork retangle. The strap consists of rows of pink, blue, red, and white beads. The blue of the rectangle has three rows of a centrally placed triangular pattern inset with 6 geometric diamonds in red, black, and blue, on a white ground. Strap is attached to rectangle by conical brass buttons. Technique: flat single-face, brick. Condition: several small torn spots.
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Zulu. <em>Neck Ornament (Ibheqe or Umphapheni)</em>, mid to late 19th century. Glass beads, sinew, 11 1/2 × 7 1/4 × 1/2 in. (29.2 × 18.4 × 1.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Herman Eggers, 45.125.10. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 45.125.10_acetate_bw.jpg)