Width: 3 inches
Length: 3 inches
Height: 4¼ inches
Hand Crafted in South Africa
These unique candle holders are hand beaded by the Ndebele ladies, the top and bottom are sterling silver, the set comes packaged in a box. While the designs and colors of the beadwork may vary the quality will never be compromised.
About the Ndebele.
Ndebele women traditionally adorned themselves with a variety of ornaments, each symbolizing her status in society. After marriage, dresses became increasingly elaborate and spectacular. In earlier times, the Ndebele wife would wear copper and brass rings around her arms, legs and neck, symbolizing her bond and faithfulness to her husband, once her home was built..
She would only remove the rings after his death. The rings (called idzila) were believed to have strong ritual powers. Husbands used to provide their wives with rings; the richer the husband, the more rings the wife would wear. Today, it is no longer common practice to wear these rings permanently.
In addition to the rings, married women also wore neck hoops made of grass (called isigolwani) twisted into a coil and covered in beads, particularly for ceremonial occasions. Isigolwani are sometimes worn as neckpieces and as leg and arm bands by newly wed women whose husbands have not yet provided them with a home, or by girls of marriageable age after the completion of their initiation ceremony.
Married women also wore a five-fingered apron (called an ijogolo) to mark the culmination of the marriage, which only takes place after the birth of the first child. The marriage blanket (nguba) worn by married women was decorated with beadwork to record significant events throughout the woman’s lifetime.
For example, long beaded strips signified that the woman’s son was undergoing the initiation ceremony and indicated that the woman had now attained a higher status in Ndebele society. It symbolized joy because her son had achieved manhood as well as the sorrow at losing him to the adult world.
A married woman always wore some form of head covering as a sign of respect for her husband. These ranged from a simple beaded headband or a knitted cap to elaborate beaded headdresses (amacubi).
Boys usually ran around naked or wore a small front apron of goatskin. However, girls wore beaded aprons or beaded wraparound skirts from an early age. For rituals and ceremonies, Ndebele men adorned themselves with ornaments made for them by their wives.
Ndebele arts and crafts.
Ndebele art has always been an important identifying characteristic of the Ndebele. Apart from its aesthetic appeal it has a cultural significance that serves to reinforce the distinctive Ndebele identity.
The Ndebele’s essential artistic skill has always been understood to be the ability to combine exterior sources of stimulation with traditional design concepts borrowed from their ancestors.
Ndebele artists also demonstrated a fascination with the linear quality of elements in their environment and this is depicted in their artwork. Painting was done freehand, without prior layouts, although the designs were planned beforehand.
The characteristic symmetry, proportion and straight edges of Ndebele decorations were done by hand without the help of rulers and squares. Ndebele women were responsible for painting the colorful and intricate patterns on the walls of their houses.
This presented the traditionally subordinate wife with an opportunity to express her individuality and sense of self-worth. Her innovativeness in the choice of colors and designs set her apart from her peer group. In some instances, the women also created sculptures to express themselves.
The back and side walls of the house were often painted in earth colors and decorated with simple geometric shapes that were shaped with the fingers and outlined in black. The most innovative and complex designs were painted, in the brightest colors, on the front walls of the house. The front wall that enclosed the courtyard in front of the house formed the gateway (izimpunjwana) and was given special care.
Windows provided a focal point for mural designs and their designs were not always symmetrical. Sometimes, makebelieve windows are painted on the walls to create a focal point and also as a mechanism to relieve the geometric rigidity of the wall design. Simple borders painted in a dark color, lined with white, accentuated less important windows in the inner courtyard and in outside walls.
Contemporary Ndebele artists make use of a wider variety of colors (blues, reds, greens and yellows) than traditional artists were able to, mainly because of their commercial availability. Traditionally, muted earth colors, made from ground ochre, and different natural-colored clays, in white, browns, pinks and yellows, were used. Black was derived from charcoal. Today, bright colors are the order of the day.
As Ndebele society became more westernized, the artists started reflecting this change of their society in their paintings. Another change is the addition of stylized representational forms to the typical traditional abstract geometric designs. Many Ndebele artists have now also extended their artwork to the interior of houses. Ndebele artists also produce other crafts such as sleeping mats and isingolwani.
Isingolwani (colorful neck hoops) are made by winding grass into a hoop, binding it tightly with cotton and decorating it with beads. In order to preserve the grass and to enable the hoop to retain its shape and hardness, the hoop is boiled in sugar water and left in the hot sun for a few days. A further outstanding characteristic of the Ndebele is their beadwork.
Beadwork is intricate and time consuming and requires a deft hand and good eyesight. This pastime has long been a social practice in which the women engaged after their chores were finished but today, many projects involve the production of these items for sale to the public.