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.
Glass beads, sinew
mid to late 19th century
11 1/2 × 7 1/4 × 1/2 in. (29.2 × 18.4 × 1.3 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Mrs. Herman Eggers
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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)
overall, 45.125.10_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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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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