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Glass beads, hide, and sinew
Overall: 94 x 29.8 cm (37 x 11 3/4 in.)
Severance and Greta Millikin Trust 2022.49.b
The beads to make an ensemble like this cost several cattle in the early nineteenth century, an amount most couldn't afford.
Elite Xhosa women once wore beaded garments like this on festive occasions. Made almost completely from imported Venetian or Bohemian glass beads, they were overt status symbols. Imported beads functioned as money for the Xhosa between about 1770 and 1829. These garments’ female maker carefully selected beads of the highest quality, uniform in color, shape, and size. Made in the same shape as the pendant, a swallowtail-shaped apron (CMA 2010.206) worn under the skirt completed the ensemble.
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