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

African Zulu Hand Beaded Coral & Brown Necklace

Zulu Hand Beaded Coral & Brown Necklace
Zulu Hand Beaded Coral & Brown Necklace
Item# JWL64

Product Description

Zulu Hand Beaded Coral & Brown Necklace

Choker Width: Ĺ inch
Choker Length: 14 Ĺ inches

Hand Crafted in South Africa

This unique hand beaded Zulu zig zag choker has been hand strung in a zig zag pattern, the colors of the pattern are alternating in coral and brown . What makes this choker unique is the zig zag pattern that has been strung by hand

This necklace has been made by several small scale self-help projects that have evolved in recent years to uplift Zulu women, who whilst working from their homes, are able to supplement their incomes and at the same time maintain the traditional craft of beadwork.

About Zulu Beadwork

Beads and beadwork have been an important part of the culture of southeast Africa for hundreds of years, perhaps for millennia. They have been used by archaeologists to date the ancient ruins of Mapungubwe and Zimbabwe, by historians to provide evidence of trading activities and contacts with other civilizations and cultures, and by anthropologists who have recognized Zulu beadwork as an important social regulator and index of status within the society. Curiously enough, however, Zulu beadwork, acknowledged to be among the finest in Africa, has received very little attention as an artistic expression.

African beadwork is a strong part of the Zulu tradition and the tradition of many other African tribes. Trade in beads began hundreds of years ago, probably even before the days of Henry Francis Fynn - the first European settler to settle in Natal in 1824. These beads came to be highly valued by the Zulu tribes who then started to add them to many different items and even weaved into them messages which were then sent to friends and lovers.

Beads were probably first traded in Africa during the time of the Egyptians, Sumerians and Chaldeans about three thousand years ago. Since the Zulu people could not make these themselves they came to value them highly and used them to craft many different items and also as a means of communication.

The patterns and colors used to create Zulu beadwork contained specific messages and symbols. They were used to show whether a girl was single, engaged to be married or a new mother.

Glass beads are a by-product of the discovery of glass, which occurred in Egypt during the rule of the pharaohs some 30 centuries ago. Egyptian glass beads were transported by the Phoenicians from the Nile Delta to every port along the North African coast and the ancient Negro kingdoms of West and Central Africa. The Arabs succeeded the Phoenicians as traders and continued to supply beads to Africans along the East Coast. To this day, red cornelian beads of Indian origin are washed out on South Africa's shores from ancient Arab vessels that fell victim to storms and sank.

Glass beads were valued in Africa, not because Africans were duped into believing them to be precious stones, but because they were the products of an exotic technology, of which the equivalent was unknown in sub-Saharan Africa at that time. Beads, therefore, became precious in their own right and were crafted into a variety of objects to be worn according to custom, and as a token of social status, political importance and for personal adornment. What makes Zulu beadwork unique is the code by which particular colors are selected and combined in various decorative geometrical designs in order to convey messages. The geometric shapes themselves have particular significance and the craft itself forms a language devoted entirely to the expression of ideas, feelings and facts related to behavior and relations between the sexes. The Zulu beadwork language is deceptively simple: it uses one basic geometric shape, the triangle, and seven basic colors. The triangle's 3 corners represent father, mother and child. A triangle pointing down represents and unmarried woman; pointing up it represents an unmarried man. Two triangles joined at their bases represented a married woman, while two triangles joined at their points, in an hourglass shape, represent a married man.

Find Other Unique African Products


Tie Cowrie Shell Choker

Width: 1 inch
Length: 20 ľ inches

Hand Crafted in Kenya

This stunning choker was handmade in Kenya cowrie shells, the shells are strung top and bottom with African glass beads in between the necklace/choker ties at the back, which makes it adjustable

Cowrie shells were used as currency in Africa before trade beads became valuable.

Owning a piece of African jewelry is more than owning a piece of jewelry its possessing a world of culture and history in its own beautiful form. Even though there is history and meaning behind each piece, itís the art in the jewelry that grabs the attention of most collectors.

African jewelry is an ancient and time honored art form that reflects the art of African heritage, culture and history. There are several artistic, religious, spiritual and cultural elements of African heritage visible in each uniquely crafted piece of jewelry.

Around the turn of the 10th century, when bronze work was common, crafting these pieces became more intricate. Bronze pieces were normally decorated with ivory or precious stones and several of these pieces were identified with royalty. Beads have also played a very important role in African culture and can be seen today in many of the beautiful pieces of jewelry created by the skilled craftsmen who make them.

Modern African pieces still remain true to the same historic values and meanings of the past. These values represent different elements of African culture and reveal the importance of each piece of jewelry, which in turn makes them so special to collectors and art lovers everywhere.

The history and meaning of each piece of jewelry is unique. It is said that owning one of these pieces provides hope, wisdom and well-being to its owner. So start your own Ďartí collection today.

About Cowrie Shells

Cowry shells (also spelled "cowrie") are home to the Cowry snail, a conch mollusk of the Cypraeidae family. The shells are native to the Indian and Pacific oceans, particularly the Maldives. They are also one of the oldest known forms of currency, a symbol of fertility, and a sign of royalty in some cultures. The cowry shell gave porcelain its name. The Italian word for cowry is "porcellana" meaning small pig. The look of porcelain imported from China to Italy resembled the shine and luster of cowry shells.

The use of cowry shells as currency dates back to the Chinese Shiang dynasty (2000 BC) through the Zhou dynasty. Natural shells could not be counterfeited, and the sources for cowry shells were so far from China that only kings could afford to import them. The Chinese character for a cowry shell is "bei," now a part of almost 400 Chinese characters representing value. Cowry shells saw great use in Africa as currency, especially in the slave trade. Among the Kuba people of Central Africa, cowry shells were used as currency until the early 20th century.

The cowry shell is a female symbol. Cowry shells figure prominently in many West African cultures as a sign of fertility. Waistbands of stringed cowry shells are worn around the hips in the belief this increases fertility. Women in Roman Pompeii wore cowry shells to prevent sterility. In Japan, a name for the cowry shell translates to "the easy delivery shell." Some Japanese women hold cowry shells while giving birth to aid in a successful and less stressful delivery.

About Kenyan Culture

Currently there are more than 40 different ethnic group in Kenya.

The main groups of tribes are the Bantu who migrated from western Africa, the Nilotic people who originated from Sudan and the Hamitic group, who were mainly pastoral tribes from Ethiopia and Somalia. The main tribes are Kikuyu (21%), Meru (5%), Kalenjin, Luyha, Luo (14%), Kisii, Kamba, Swahili, Masai, Turkana

The other large ethnic groups include the Luo, Luhya, Kamba and Kalenjin- There are also some groups of people who form a very small population. This includes the tribe of El Molo.

Kenya culture is a fascinating way of life that blends the traditions of thousands of years of African social evolution with the modern influences of the 20th century. The multifaceted culture of Kenya is expressed in different forms, ranging from its people and language, food, music and dance, art, artifacts, theatre and literature to its ethnic values and ethical norms. Combined with other traditions, these forms of expression and lifestyle form an identity that is uniquely Kenyan.

Another fascinating aspect of Kenyan culture is the art and artifacts that Kenya's different ethnic groups craft manually, using readily available local materials. Beautifully carved wood sculptures showing exquisite detail and craftsmanship are produced in large quantities and sold to tourists both locally and abroad.

Other popular Kenya artifacts include colorful hand-woven sisal baskets, Maasai beaded jewelry, gold and silver jewelry, musical instruments, soapstone sculptures, tribal masks, figurines, paintings, prints, batik cloth, kangas and the beautiful traditional Kikoys (African sarongs).

Tie Cowrie Shell Choker JWL88