Jul 7, 2022
Jul 7, 2022
Jul 7, 2022

Royal ceremonial beadwork: breast cover (incebetha)

Royal ceremonial beadwork: breast cover (incebetha)


Part of a set. See all set records

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


Did you know?

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.

See also
African Art
African Art
Type of artwork: 

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email [email protected].

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.