Glass beads, plant fiber, copper alloy, and iron
Overall: 68.6 cm (27 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2010.207
The seed beads that make up this neckpiece were imported to southern Africa by European traders who tailored their wares to local tastes and color preferences; beads came first from Venice and Murano, and later from Bohemia in the twentieth century.
Consisting of a tasseled length attached to a rectangular panel joined by metal buttons, this neckpiece (umphapheni) was likely worn along with waistbands and headpieces with the same color scheme and patterns. Joined together using stitches and zig-zag patterns popular around the turn of the 20th century, glass beadwork was heavy to wear. The fringe—typical of Zulu-style Northern Nguni beadwork—added additional weight. The imported glass beads testify to centuries of trade connections between southern Africa and Europe, while the brass buttons—probably drawn from a British soldier’s uniform—allude to the Anglo-Zulu conflicts of the 1800s.
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