SOUTH EAST AFRICAN BEADWORK 1850–1910 from Adornment to Artefact to Art
Until fairly recently beadwork was considered to be an artefact of interest to ethnographers rather than an art form to be researched by art historians and displayed in art galleries. Based on the collections of art dealers Michael Stevenson and Michael Graham-Stewart, this book demonstrates the breadth and astonishing artistry of women beadworkers from the subcontinent. The focus of the collection is beadwork created by Zulu-speaking women in the Zulu kingdom and the colony of Natal. There are also pieces produced by Xhosa-speaking women from the Eastern Cape, by Sotho women in the Drakensberg, and from further north, traditionally ascribed to the Yao people in the eastern Zambian region. In an introductory essay, Sandra Klopper discusses the origins of beadwork in the region. Themes explored include the history of collecting beadwork, the changing value of beads, influence of fashion and symbolism on the choice of colour in beadwork, the changing status of beadwork, and the issues of gender underlying the making and wearing of beadwork.