Beads of Life

Eastern and Southern African Beadwork from Canadian Collections

By (author) Marie-Louise Labelle
Categories: Non-classifiable
Series: Mercury Series (0316-1854)
Publisher: Canadian Museum of History
Paperback : 9780660194028, 208 pages, May 2005

Table of contents

AbstractResumeMap of AfricaAcknowledgementsIntroduction1. Eastern and Southern African Beadwork from Canadian Collections2. Materials of Early Ornament and Clothing3. Glass Beads and Colour Interpretation4. Aesthetic Principles of Beadwork5. Status Clothing and Ornaments6. Beads of LifeConclusionSelectied Bibliography


At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the beadwork of eastern and southern Africa is attracting growing attention from scholars and the general public alike. Long considered a craft without much authenticity, it has recently come to be considered an art form in its own right. Since time immemorial, the women of eastern and southern Africa have made ornaments clothing and personal objects as a means of expressing their identity. Glass beads imported from Europe gave them access to colour and enabled the creation of unique works, while still using traditional techniques. This richly illustrated book examines the origins of beadwork in eastern and southern Africa and analyzes its aesthetics, its social meanings, and its historical context, through pieces drawn exclusively from public and private Canadian collections.