Meaning, memories are stitched into South African beadworks

Twenty years ago on a sugar plantation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Bev Gibson and Ntombephi “Induna” Ntobela founded a collective called Ubuhle (pronounced uh-boo-klay), which means “beauty” in the languages of the local Zulu and Xhosa peoples. The women of Ubuhle live and work together, raising their children and crafting large, often searingly personal beaded textiles called ndwangos — in English, “cloths,” or “rags.”

Tiny ostrich eggshell beads that tell the story of Africa’s past

Ornament production really took off about 50,000 years ago, when we see the earliest standardised jewelry in the form of small disc beads made from ostrich eggshells. In Africa, ostrich eggshell beads are one of the most common types of archaeological artifacts, particularly from sites dated to the last 10,000 years. They are also found in smaller numbers throughout Asia where 12,000-year-old ostrich eggshell beads have been discovered in China.

Can one artist summarize the whole world? Nope, but it’s fun to see Rina Banerjee try

“Viola, from New Orleans-ah, an African Woman, was the 19th century’s rescue worker, a global business goods raker, combed, tilled the land of Commerce, giving America a certain extra extra excess culture, to cultivate it, making home for aliens not registered, made business of the finer, finer, had occupations, darning thread not leisure with reason and with luster, in ‘peek-a-boo’ racial disguises …”

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