Hand Made Gifts, Unique Hand Crafted Home Goods, FAIR TRADE

Ndebele beaded Key Chain

Hand Beaded Ndebele Geometric Design Key Chain
Hand Beaded Ndebele Geometric Design Key Chain
Item# KC41

Product Description

Hand Beaded Ndebele Geometric Design Key Chain
Size of keychain:
Height: 1 inch
Width: 1/16 inches
Length: 2 inches
Hand Crafted in South Africa

This Key Chain has been hand made in South Africa, using traditional Ndebele Beading techniques, the key chain is a rectangle in shape with a colorful geometric design in the center, this is a true piece of art that has been made using African glass beads. The color of the beads may vary from key chain to key chain, but the quality of the work will never vary.

About Ndebele Beading
There is no conclusive theory regarding the introduction of beads into Ndebele culture. It is thought that they have long been used by the Ndebele people and that the early glass beads, mostly of Czechoslovakian origin, may have been introduced during the second half of the nineteenth century by European traders. Beadwork has always been done exclusively by the Ndebele women, who are renowned for their artistic skills. Their beadwork and bead pattern-inspired mural paintings in particular have become an integral part of Ndebele culture.

The motifs used in beadwork and in wall painting show great vitality and dynamic response to the changing world around the artists. Commonplace items such as letters of the alphabet, especially from car registrations like TP for Pretoria, and N for Ndebele and Ndzundza, are used in their normal form or are elaborated for their design effect. Telephone poles, airplanes and the symmetrical geometric patterns of razor blades are also included. Stylized plant forms may express a hope for good harvests in a dry region. However the most frequent theme, as in wall painting, is the house. Gables, gateways, steps, rooflines and light fixtures may all be recognized on women's aprons and on walls. These reflect the domestic interests of women, and may point to aspirations of idealized homes.

The types of beads used have changed over the years, and in more recent times the prohibitive price of the small, imported glass beads has led to the use of larger and cheaper plastic beads for more common items. Women who wish to make more fashionable items often recycle beads from older pieces of work. However, many of the old customs and uses for beads persist as women still painstakingly thread beads to make items such as the Nyoka (literally 'snake'), which is a woven, beaded train worn by a bride during her wedding ceremony. Another trademark item is the unusual Linga Koba, or long tears, consisting of two narrow strips of woven beading that are worn hanging down on each side of the head. Mothers wear the Linga Koba at the ceremonies marking the end of their sons initiation ceremonies. The pair of narrow beadwork bands attached to a headband reaching onto the ground represents the tears of sorrow and joy a mother has as she initiates her son into manhood.

In beadwork women have a personal expressive form. Beads are used Nyoka to decorate, or even to form, clothing. Men, who work on farms and in cities, generally wear beaded clothing and ornaments only at occasions such as initiation ceremonies. Women are also increasingly employed away from home and wear their beadwork less commonly. But wherever beadwork may be worn, it has been made by women who use this medium to make known their personal and family status, transitions in their lives, and to demonstrate their own creativity. Clothing and their usage are described in the past tense, because traditional use is described here. These are now worn to a greater or lesser extent depending on individual preference and circumstances.

Very young girls wore an Igabe, a small apron with white beaded dressed skin or cotton fringes attached to a front waistband, densely covered with beadwork. After puberty and the accompanying initiation ritual, a young woman wore an Isiphephetu, a stiff front apron decorated with beadwork, and she could then wear the Iisithimba, a long soft skin back apron, which was worn by women of all ages from puberty to old age.

For her marriage, a bride wore an Itshogolo, a goatskin front apron, with the lower edge cut into five approximately hand-length flaps. This was worn undecorated for her wedding, but as a married woman grew in status at her husband's home, she embellished her Itshogolo with beadwork. She wore it at important ceremonial occasions, such as the initiation of her sons. Married women wore another type of front apron, an Amaphotho. It was shaped rather like the Itshogolo but had a central beaded fringe with two squared-off flaps at either side.

An important item worn by brides was a Naga, a paneled skin cloak. At her marriage, a woman also receives a plain canvas apron from the family of her groom. The apron consists of a rectangle with five panels, which are referred to as "calves" and allude to the woman's ability to bear children. After her marriage, the woman embroiders the apron with seed beads in a simple design for everyday use or in more elaborate patterns for ceremonial use. She sews imported European glass beads onto the canvas backing and arranges them in bold geometric designs that echo the shape of Ndebele houses. In the apron, blue, green, and pink beads contrast with the white beaded background. This was often decorated with mainly white beads. A married woman's Nguba is judged by the detail and intricacy of the beadwork that is used to decorate it, and is worn to all important ceremonies for her married life.

Older beadwork pieces, from the 1920s and 1930s, show the predominant use of white beads as a field color, and have symbols in mainly primary colors, green and orange. It appears that in time the designs were elaborated upon and enlarged, leaving less of the white field. Within approximately the last two decades, possibly influenced by wall painting styles, the design has tended to occupy the entire piece. Along with this change has been a change color preference. Especially among the Ndzundza, the colors currently popular are dark blues, greens, purples and black, with touches of white. Little research has focused specifically on the selection of motif and color by the beadworkers. The change outlined above may simply indicate the sweep of fashion and availability of beads, or it may relate to regional and clan differences. It is possible that the significance of motif and color is different in particular contexts. In some situations they may refer to a group identity; in others as markers of status within a group; or as personal communication codes, for example between courting couples.

Through their artwork, the Ndebele maintained a strong group consciousness, and beadwork became one way in which they asserted their identity. They painted their homes with distinct patterns and wore beaded clothing and ornaments as part of everyday dress. Thus, the Ndebele proclaimed their cultural identity no matter where they were.