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Tribal bead-work: Unconscious global similarities and archetypes?

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posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 03:23 PM
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I've been a fan of tribal bead-work since childhood.

Especially in South Africa tribal bead-work was very rich in its variety, and with a slight knowledge one could immediately tell from what tribe a specific piece or wearer originated.

Bead-work was once sold cheaply along the tourist spots, especially in the former reserves.

Now it seems bead-work is big business, and some of the better pieces can reach high prices.

I've seen great similarities in bead-work between tribal peoples who live on different continents, from African, Native American to Taiwanese Aboriginal items and dress.

Why were all these cultures so interested in glass beads when they first traded with Europeans?

Of course they had beads before that in shells, quills and other local products.

However it's in the 19th century to the present that tribal peoples really produced a wonderland of bead-works.

Considering our local Nguni (Xhosa, Zulu and Ndebele) cultures, Westerners said they were illiterate.
Yet the bead-work they wore until recently was a form of writing.
Every piece had a meaning and a name, and in combination it could tell the informed person the clan, the marital status and much else on the wearer.
These "illiterate people" had colorful writing all over their bodies!

We look at big things like pyramids as a strange commonality between continents and cultures.
But what about the bead-work that looks so similar between, for example, the Lakota (US) and the Zulu (SA)?
Much of it has symbolic meaning close to the dream-work, and reflects cultural expressions and history other to our own.

Well, any pics, clips or reflections on tribal bead-work are welcome.

Native American bead-work:



edit on 12-8-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)




posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 03:54 PM
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The Ndebele people.

Known for their colorful homestead designs and blankets, the Ndebele were also famed for their magnificent bead-work.

Traditionally women wore copper rings and beaded hoops attached at childhood, and these were never removed and sometimes led to elongated necks.

However, the need for employment in the cities has made such customs redundant, although the designs and beading of Ndebele women remains famous.




posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 05:33 PM
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Various clothing styles from Taiwanese Aboriginal tribes.

Some tribes expressed themselves in weaving rather than bead-work, and it's not always easy to distinguish between the two forms.




posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 05:52 PM
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Beautiful bead work.

I'm very interested in archetypal symbolism. Do you find the archetype similarities more in the colors or the patterns ? Could you explain more, with some examples ?



posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 05:58 PM
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Let me quickly add that I've found both astounding African and American pieces and clips, but some are from curio shops, NGO groups and businesses.
I'm not sure immediately which are for-profit or not, or who makes the profit (especially in Africa).
Hence I will try to stick to clips that have no direct commercial or marketing venture attached.
However, as with writing, if an artist is mentioned, I feel obliged to credit them.

Huichol beadwork - a feast for the eyes!


edit on 12-8-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 06:18 PM
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Originally posted by seaside sky
Beautiful bead work.

I'm very interested in archetypal symbolism. Do you find the archetype similarities more in the colors or the patterns ? Could you explain more, with some examples ?


Well white symbolizing purity, for example.
White is also the color the shamans (sangomas in SA) use to connect them to the world of the ancestors.

Here is an article on the bead-work meanings of the Zulu people:
www.marques.co.za...

I don't know too many things, but people have not looked at bead-work very often.

So I'm also inviting discussion, because it's been very over-looked.

Many tribal cultures were already in a transitional phase when they took to bead-work.
That in itself is interesting.
From the Kalahari desert to the Amazon, or New Guinea, it's one of the first things native people wanted.

Now we have pieces in museums, and even the descendants don't always know what it meant.

Clearly it expressed something between nature and humanity, or people's relationships that could be captured.
It could be left for posterity as a sign of something, just like the shell wampum belts.

Perhaps what one could say is that the people who produced bead-work survived - their identity survived and still survives, even amongst larger groups of people.
edit on 12-8-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 06:47 PM
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reply to post by halfoldman
 


Thanks for that info !

You might find this interesting:

www.nativetech.org...

The Wampanoags are from Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands. The shell beadwork is extremely fine and well-polished, and I've always loved the patterns. There are quite a few artists who continue the tradition.



posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 07:03 PM
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The annual Reed Dance in Swaziland.

I chose a short obscure clip because of the tribal nudity, but these Zulu and Swazi reed dances are a festival of bead-work and a reminder of the decades past when bead-work was a lifestyle in rural southern Africa.




posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 07:19 PM
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Historic Native American art including quill and bead-work.

From the collection at the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls (USA).

Almost uncanny, but very beautiful to look into an age when people wore these items.


edit on 12-8-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 12 2012 @ 08:13 PM
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So sad I can't find much imagery from local SA museums, because they have great collections ranging from the San (Bushman) ostrich egg-shell bead-works (some dated to prehistory), to huge pieces from other tribes made with glass beads.

Here's a clip on the Xhosa people.




posted on Aug, 13 2012 @ 12:38 AM
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Iowa Native American artist Nadine Big Bear discusses her bead-works.

It takes several days to make one piece.
The sheer amount of patience of tribal women who produce this dazzling beauty is remarkable in our times.

I hope it's the one form of human expression that will never be cheaply copied in some factory.
I don't think it can be really.





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