This heavy and impressive beaded garment  consists of a red  trade cloth backing to which is sewn a neck band  in a contrasting blue fabric at the top , decorated with a single band of beadwork from which  three long bead tassels hang.  Where the tassels end, 12 separate bands of beadwork in several different styles and patterns have been joined together and sewn onto the bottom ¾ of the cloak. Obviously, this garment represents an enormous amount of work and a considerable investment in Continue reading...

 Ida Dyer’s life was the stuff that TV soap operas are made of. Married at 21 to a man who was not particularly pleasant or faithful to her, all her children dead in childhood, a divorce followed a few years later by remarrying the same tyrant, a life of financial ups and downs, and a final bitter divorce and a court case in which she sued for a share of the estate which she said was rightly hers. Sounds like a season of “Days of Our Lives”, except for one totally unexpected twist. I Continue reading...

  Though it is just about the same shape and size as the light-weight, conical and sometimes beaded sun hats worn by farmers and country people in Kalimantan and Borneo, this beaded object is not a hat. It is, in fact, a beaded Batak food cover from Sumatra used to cover a platter of food at a feast, a very much rarer object.  These objects are really beautifully beaded, but they can be tricky to identify. I have only ever owned two examples, and I bought them both on eBay described as bead Continue reading...

It started off so innocently more than forty years ago, with just a nibble of intoxicating Zulu or Xhosa beadwork now and then, but I was soon hooked and ended up with an insatiable habit. Within a few years, South African beadwork alone was not enough to satisfy my craving and, I found myself buying beads from South East Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East and Island South East Asia. It is hard not to be seduced by the power of beads. They are  different  from almost every other form of trib Continue reading...

How delighted I was to hear that a spritely and spirited Barbara Tyrrell celebrated her centenary with a rip roaring party at her friend Ken Karner’s farm, where the elite of South Africa’s bead cognoscenti gathered to wish her well. She deserves no less. Her greatest achievement, “The Bantu Tribes of Southern Africa”, published in 1976, records the costume and customs of 26 South African tribes as worn in the mid 20th century and is still the bible of anthropologists and bead collecto Continue reading...

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