The Melting Pot – Africa

After Looking at beaded items in the Pitt Rivers Museum, I have decided to research in particular the beaded products from Africa. I started my research by looking at a few books, “Africa – Arts And Cultures” Edited By John Mack and published in 2000, by British Museum Company Ltd. I found that most elaborately beaded items belonged to the kings of Africa. If any one was seen wearing elaborate beaded items, who were not of royalty were punished. In Particular, Yoruba people from Nigeria say “Irinisi Ni Isonilojo” Which means you are what you wear and that you wear what you are. Clothing is there to show the person behind the clothes. Also I found that the most significant item for a king to wear is the beaded crown, “ade ileke” There are two types, one used for public ceremonies and another used for court, The public headdress usually the more magnificent of the two.

19th Century Ade Ileke, From the book “Africa Arts And Culture”

Also the King would wear Beaded shoes outside of the palace, this is predicted to have come around during the 17th century as Kings, were required more and more to leave the palace and attend public ceremonies. I think these Items are all very beautiful and must of take a very long time to make, I love the colours that are vibrant but can be seen to be now rather dark due to age. I want to replicate this sense of authority and age in my own work.  I also looked at an older royal crown from the 15th Century, In Benin Nigeria. These were alot more basic compared to the 19th century and followed one colour scheme. This crown was made out of Coral, Agate and copper while the 19th century was made of Glass, Textile, Metal and cotton.  This list of materials clearly shows the difference in culture between places like England and Africa. English Kings were adorned with gold and jewels rather then coral and copper. Yet the African headdress’s seem more appealing and interesting to me, with there bright colours and imagery.

My sketchbook

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