3 Comments

Beaded Aprons

September 06, 2011, 04:20 am  Posted by Nathalie Mornu
 

A few months back, I went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art to see an exhibit called Material World. It features extravagantly embellished garments from around the globe that show how clothing is used to convey power, status and wealth. Fascinating stuff, and beautifully curated.

I discovered something in this show that I had somehow never heard of or seen before–beaded aprons! At one time in parts of Africa, these would have been worn either with nothing else as a modesty apron, or over a garment. In either case, the aprons can denote age, marital status, social status, etc. These aprons were originally made of iron strips, but that changed after the introduction of glass beads.

Of course I didn’t have a camera with me at the museum (my photos tend to be lousy anyway), but I’ve been lucky enough to find two websites featuring photos of  beaded aprons, the gracious owners of which told me I could share the pictures with you, dear reader. I thank Elizabeth Bennett of Africadirect.com and Ann Porteus from sidewalktribal.com.au. (By the way, both websites sell these aprons, and Ann also has a killer collection of photos of  artifacts on her flickr account.)

Apron from the Kirdi people of Cameroon. Courtesy of Africadirect.com

Little girl's apron from the Fali people of Northern Cameroon. Courtesy of Ann Porteus

"Pikuran" or "cache-sexe," worn by pre-pubescent girls from the Kirdi people of Northern Cameroon. Courtesy of Ann Porteus

"Pikuran," from the Kirdi people of Northern Cameroon. Worn by pre-pubescent girls to ward off evil spirits, as well as to attract notice. Courtesy of Ann Porteus

"Ghabi" or girl's apron, from the Ndebele people of South Africa. Courtesy of Ann Porteus

“Jakolo,” a married woman’s apron, from the Ndebele people of South Africa. Courtesy of Ann Porteus

Married woman's apron, from the Turkana people of Kenya. Courtesy of Ann Porteus

Apron from the Kirdi people of Cameroon. Courtesy of africadirect.com
Apron from the Kirdi people of Cameroon. Courtesy of africadirect.com
 
 
 
Nathalie Mornu

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Nathalie Mornu loves shiny things. Her focus as a Lark editor is on beaded jewelry, althou...

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  • Guest

    Beautiful beadwork, thank you for sharing. There are also aprons that are worn underneath other garments. The Thembu of South Africa call this type of item “Inkciyo” and you can read more about them on Ken Karner’s site: Ezakwantu.com