Thursday, 31 May 2012

Fine Living - Ndebele Identity

I am going to quote from the foreword of a book about 'Ndebele Women designing Identity' by Steve Bales (Group Art Consultant, First Rand) as he puts it in a nutshell..... a relatively small group of Southern Ndebele women preserved and proclaimed their people's identity in the face of complete social disruption after the loss of their ancestral land ... (and) ....did so by creating an authentic visual language in the design, construction and decoration of their homes.  Ndebele design has become a global icon of South African identity.

The women wear beaded adornments which signal the different stages of their lives.  Married women wear a beaded amaphoto (aprons) and the older styles were made mostly with white clay beads. Young initiates wear square aprons and these are beaded in a range of blue, green, mauve and brown glass beads.



I have made a fabric interpretation of a young initiates amaphoto. The top binding has tails on either side for 'tying' and are plain.  Although happy with the main body it still screams 'beads' to me.  I probably will add beads to the ends of the 'ties' which will help with weight and better 'hanging' plus I will probably add a fringe of white beads at the bottom. Lots of probables at the moment.

11 comments:

  1. A splendid interpretation of the theme, and a set of patterns that have always intrigued me. Beading sounds as though it is a must for the future.

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  2. Phil as usual you have interpreted the theme very well and your design is wonderful - great to have a history of the Ndebele designs, something I did not know but have often wondered about as one sees quite a lot of it around and about but I did not know what the origin was. Beads are a must I think. Really great!

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  3. What a lovely interpretation, Phil. I totally agree that it is crying out to be beaded - or for beads. I love the vertical lines which are a perfect representation of the beading. I think you could have a series here...

    Hilary

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  4. Fascinating background story, Phil. I too like the choice of the vertical quilting lines, and the ideas for adding beads.

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  5. I too agree with the future beads. What a visually beautiful piece, made even more so with the explanation of the history.

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  6. i have done a few african pieces - each one has beads either in the piece or on the border or both. i like the linear quilting but not sure if it is only in the photo but i think the white thread works less well than perhaps another color/multi color or even see thru. i love love love the piece! Viva!

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    1. I agree about the thread - it is grey but I would have preferred charcoal but was out and had no time to nip out (as usual). Black would have been better. Might try a very soft dark pencil and try and colour up the thread. Thanks.

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  7. Your piece would round out my collection of beaded work very nicely! It's lovely. And yes, a beaded fringe - picking up some of the colours in the quilt. The quilting does make it look like rows of beads.

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  8. Now I can't wait to see the series!!!!

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  9. What a fascinating story! I always learn so much through these works of art...the strong colors and simple shapes make for an interesting composition.

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  10. Great interpretation of the theme, I'm learning so much as part of this group. I actually like the light lines .....

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