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Hand Beaded Zulu Key Chain

Hand Beaded Zulu Key Chain with Elephant Artwork
Hand Beaded Zulu Key Chain with Elephant Artwork
Item# KC40

Product Description

Hand Beaded Zulu Key Chain with Elephant Artwork
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 Zulu Beading techniques, the key chain is a rectangle in shape with an elephant in the center, this is a true piece of art that has been made using African glass beads. The color of the elephant my vary from key chain to key chain, but the quality of the work will never vary.

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.

About The African Elephant
African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. They are slightly larger than their Asian cousins and can be identified by their larger ears that look somewhat like the continent of Africa. (Asian elephants have smaller, rounded ears.)

Elephant ears radiate heat to help keep these large animals cool, but sometimes the African heat is too much. Elephants are fond of water and enjoy showering by sucking water into their trunks and spraying it all over themselves. Afterwards, they often spray their skin with a protective coating of dust.

An elephant's trunk is actually a long nose used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking, and also for grabbing things—especially a potential meal. The trunk alone contains about 100,000 different muscles. African elephants have two fingerlike features on the end of their trunk that they can use to grab small items. (Asian elephants have one.)

Both male and female African elephants have tusks they use to dig for food and water and strip bark from trees. Males use the tusks to battle one another, but the ivory has also attracted violence of a far more dangerous sort.

Because ivory is so valuable to some humans, many elephants have been killed for their tusks. This trade is illegal today, but it has not been completely eliminated, and some African elephant populations remain endangered.

Elephants eat roots, grasses, fruit, and bark, and they eat a lot of these things. An adult elephant can consume up to 300 pounds (136 kilograms) of food in a single day.

These hungry animals do not sleep much, and they roam over great distances while foraging for the large quantities of food that they require to sustain their massive bodies.

Female elephants (cows) live in family herds with their young, but adult males (bulls) tend to roam on their own.

Having a baby elephant is a serious commitment. Elephants have a longer pregnancy than any other mammal—almost 22 months. Cows usually give birth to one calf every two to four years. At birth, elephants already weigh some 200 pounds (91 kilograms) and stand about 3 feet (1 meter) tall.

African elephants, unlike their Asian relatives, are not easily domesticated