The young Zulu girl was not allowed to speak to her sweetheart so she intertwined color and shapes into a beaded necklace to express her feelings of affection. Thus an elaborate symbolic language developed over the generations as beads became an integral part of ceremonial and every day life for the Zulu women, creating a poetry understood by few in today' modern life.
An Ndebele girl also used color and form to express her intentions for marriage and a home in a heavily beaded apron called a "pepetu." The "pepetu" was the beginning of a life filled with beaded aprons, backskirts, head decorations, bridal trains, and blankets, until as a mature married woman she would be covered head to toe with elaborate beadwork.
The Zulu, the Ndebele, and the Xhosa reflect and record the development of a woman's entire life. Birth through childhood, puberty, adulthood and marriage, child-bearing and maturity are expressed through appropriate forms of beadwork.
The third group of people in South Africa to use beads in intricate ritual is the Xhosa, and it is from these three tribes that the African Heritage Trust Collection was formed, with over 500 pieces of hand beaded items. They date from the late 19th century, and were collected some thirty years ago to preserve this rich and unique heritage. Africa and Beyond owners, Ian and Julie Allen, have been fortunate to acquire this exceptional crafts and beadwork collection, and are pleased to offer it to all lovers of art, craft and beadwork. Everyone has a chance to see, touch, understand this living art that is being lost to modernization.
For the next six months, from October through March 2006, selected pieces will be on display and for sale at the gallery in La Jolla. Each week you will discover a different collection of "Pepetu,","Mapoto,"&"Jocolo," love letters, neck rings, and many many more exquisite works of beaded art. The history and use of each item is lovingly explained and recorded for a rich personal experience. The gallery is filled with photographs and paintings that illustrate the unique use of all of these items. Whether you are a dedicated collector or a student of design and color; a professional designer looking for the genuinely unique item or the curious in search of a historical creation; an armchair tourist who loves Africa or the experienced traveler, this is an exhibition to excite and satisfy. Go to the "Beadwork" pages for many beautiful examples.