Woven Legacies: Celebrating African Artistry

Timed Online Auction, 6 - 20 February 2024

Woven Legacies

Sold for

ZAR 70 350
Lot 7
  • Martha Mahlangu; An Ndebele beaded panel


Lot Estimate
ZAR 60 000 - 65 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 70 350

About this Item

South Africa late 20th century
An Ndebele beaded panel
rectangular, with geometric design in glass beads, thread and wood with a beaded loop
239 excluding hanger; 258 including hanger by 24cm

Notes

The art of Ndebele beadwork, a centuries-old tradition primarily carried out by Ndebele women, underwent a notable transformation in the late 19th century. The introduction of vibrantly coloured beads, encouraged through increased international trade, marked a pivotal moment, propelling this ancient practice into a more commercialized form that persists to this day. Originally crafted and designed for ceremonial purposes, the beadwork of the late 20th century experienced a further shift towards commercial viability. Unfortunately, this transition often resulted in a decline in quality. Amidst this trend, Martha Mahlangu stands out as a rare beacon of artistic commitment. She not only embraced the evolving styles of the tribe but, remarkably, upheld the exacting standards of the ancient tradition. Martha Mahlangu's work serves as a testament to the resilience of artistic integrity, navigating the delicate balance between tradition and commercial influences in the intricate world of Ndebele beadwork.

‘The patient skill required for such detail, deployed as it was with relatively irregular beads - although manufactured, not standardized the way they tend to be today, - makes for eminently collectable objects of exquisite and manifest quality.’ 1

Literature

Ivor Powel (1995) Ndebele: A People & Their Art, Cape Town: Struik Publishers, page 113.

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