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Hand Beaded Zulu Doll Key Chain

Hand Beaded Zulu Doll Key Chain
Hand Beaded Zulu Doll Key Chain
Item# KC39

Product Description

Hand Beaded Zulu Doll Key Chain
Size of keychain:
Height: 2 inches
Width: inches
Length: inches
Hand Crafted in South Africa

This Key chain is made in South Africa. The doll is a representation of a traditional Zulu Doll, it has been hand beaded using traditional Zulu Beading techniques.

About Zulu Beading
Intricate and colorful, Zulu beadwork has become a commercial operation for some Zulu women who sell their products around the world. However, the beaded items they sell are more than trinkets and ornaments, they embody a long tradition. From the history and symbolism of the beads themselves, to the patterned messages they portray, Zulu bead work transmits its own history.

For thousands of years, the Zulu made beaded items from stone, seashells, bone, wood, seeds, ostrich egg shells and metal. In terms of seeds, they used hard gray ones and a bright red type called Mkhokha--both resembled beans. They traded for ostrich egg beads, which were made by the Khoisan people. By the year 1000 A.D., semi-precious stones such as verdite, agate, soapstone and quartz crystal had gained popularity.

The modern, more urban, Zulu rely on plastic beads and higher quality glass beads. A seafaring culture called the Phoenicians imported the first glass beads, called seed beads, into South Africa from ancient Egypt. Arab camel caravans later took up the trade which exchanged seed beads from North African areas and India for slaves, gold and ivory from southern Africa.

The Zulu, along with other tribes in southern Africa, highly valued glass beads because they did not have the technology for manufacturing them. A trader could sell a few kilos of beads for a bull, and a chicken was worth a mere four beads. They valued each color differently--red was the most prized, and green and yellow were reserved for chiefs. However, each color had a negative symbolism in addition to a positive one. For instance, black could symbolize marriage or death; blue could represent faithfulness or dislike.

The semi-precious stones used for beadwork in the 11th century were said to hold power and bestow luck on those who wore beads made from them. By wearing them, one attempted to become healthy, stronger and longer lived. Beadwork bore the name of "umtlalu," a word which means "that which makes me stay/that which gives me life" because the Zulu believed that it pleased the gods of life.

Zulu beads have long been used to communicate ideas and messages. One of the most common types of message they conveyed was in dealing with the relationships between men and women. Women did all of the beadwork, but both men and women wore beads to express marriage bonds and other inter-sex intentions. Talking directly about such things was a sensitive matter, so meaningful beadwork allowed the two sexes to subtly communicate. Blood relatives, therefore, did not give each other beaded gifts because of the sexual nature of the messages.

The histories and symbolism expressed in Zulu beadwork items, and the techniques used to make them, were passed down from older sisters to younger sisters. Boys had to rely on their female relatives to translate meanings of patterns. One of the most basic Zulu patterns was the three corner triangle representing a family. A triangle pointing up stood for an unmarried girl while a triangle pointing down stood for an unmarried boy.