Length: 3 1/2 inches
Circumference: 7 1/2 inch
Hand Made in South Africa
These beautiful handcrafted Christmas Ornaments are handmade in South Africa, by the Zulu women using traditional weaving and beading techniques. The ball is shaped out of styrofoam ball and then beaded with red, green and white African Glass beads. Each one is unique - one of a kind, all slightly different interpretation of the many different women that make them. The color, design and pattern may vary slightly but the quality is never compromised. This stunning ball ornament is a must for any tree. The price is for one ornament although the one picture shows several together.
About Zulu Beadwork.
To appreciate the true significance of traditional Zulu beadwork, however, one has to understand how effectively the Zulu have integrated social values into their arts and crafts. Traditional colors, color combinations and patterns are still found in modern Zulu beadwork but the real eloquence is rapidly subsiding under the pressures of urbanization and culture change.
Traditional Zulu beadwork, arguably one of the most singular examples of this craft, was at one time far more than a merely decorative art of weaving small glass beads into aesthetically pleasing patterns. These designs were a surprisingly articulate vehicle of communication that helped to regulate behavior between individuals of opposite gender.
The spirit and rhythm of Africa is expressed in vibrant color in this unique art form. All the ethnic groups in South Africa place high value in beads, which at one time were used as currency with which to trade hardware and foodstuff.
The Zulu people are renowned for their exquisite and intricate beadwork, much of which is symbolic in nature – each color and design having its own meaning, for example the traditional Love Letters which carry “messages” from the heart.
"Touch the essence of Tribal Life – create a fashion statement against the backdrop of today’s technological world.
Zulu women are also expert at beadwork, weaving beads into intricate patterns to form jewelery and other decorative ornaments. The beads were first made from ivory, bone, clay, seed, stones, seashells, eggshells, plants, aromic wood and locally smelted iron. Vastly superior glass beads were introduced by European traders and became so popular that there are records of gold, ivory and even slaves being traded for them.
For the Zulu, beads have always been both a means of adornment and a form of art. However, perhaps the most important aspect of beads in Zulu culture is the messages carried by these works of art.
There is complex language of beads, which is most commonly linked with love. Colors have different meaning, white is associated with purity, pink with poverty, blue with loneliness, green with pining, red with tears and longing, yellow with jealousy, black with anger or hurt and striped beads with doubt.
It is generally assumed that African beadwork in regions south of the Sahara has its origins in the comparatively recent past when the colonization of Africa opened up the dark continent to traders from Portugal, the Netherlands and England. Further, south, in what is now KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Province of South Africa, the trade in beads is supposed to have had an even more recent origin. Henry Francis Fynn, who came to Port Natal (now Durban) as a trader in 1824, was possibly the first Englishman to have offered glass beads as standard merchandise to the North Nguni, best known of which was the Zulu, whose colorful beadwork is unique because of it’s singular eloquence in the way messages dealing with male, female relationships were traditionally woven into it’s design.
Even further to the south in what is the Transkei region of the Eastern Province, the South Nguni of whom the Xhosa, Pondo, and Thembu are well know sections have had close contact with the British ever since the first settlers arrived in Delagoa Bay (now Port Elizabeth) in 1820. Obviously, glass beads were common commodities offered by those early traders to Africans of the region whose beadwork, different in some respects from that of the Zulu, are in many ways as spectacular as the Zulu product.
The beadwork tradition did not, however, begin with the traders of the early nineteenth century. The market for glass beads already existed in KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Province. Flynn at Port Natal and British traders operating from Delagoa Bay merely supplied it, meeting a need for a commodity that had been well known to their customers long before they arrived in what is now KwaZulu Natal and the Transkei.
Glass beads appear to have been a by-product of the discovery of glass, said to have occurred in Egypt during the rule of the pharaohs as well as amongst the Chaldeans and Sumerians some thirty centuries ago. The Egyptians, favorably placed to trade with Africa to the south, were probably the first to peddle for gold, ivory and slaves. The Egyptians, who knew and valued precious stones, might well have assumed that the less sophisticated African to the south could be misled to believe that the beads, too were gems of singular value.
The Egyptians glass beads, as well those from other sources with access to the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean, were transported by Phoenicians, a seafaring nation known to have circumnavigated the cape long before the Portuguese led by Dias and Da Gama. From the Nile Delta in the far eastern Mediterranean to Carthage and on to the Straits of Gibraltar these Phoenician mariners carried cargoes of glass beads in addition to other merchandise, shipping them to every port along the North African coast and the ancient Negro Kingdoms of West and Central Africa.
With the passage of time, the Arabs succeeded the Phoenicians as traders and continued to supply beads to African along the East Coast and India, having in the meantime become a supplier of this commodity. To this day, red cornelian beads of Indian origin are washed out of the Transkeian shores from ancient Arab vessels that fell victim to storms and sank. From the North African coast on the Mediterranean, camel caravans crises crossed
The Saharan desert to trade with the African Kingdoms south of the Sahara.