The Indianapolis Museum of Art has a section of African artifacts that I find SO appealing. I am always amazed at the exquisite workmanship of the artisans. During this visit, my main focus was on the beadwork on display. I do a bit of beadwork on my own fiber pieces, so I have a real appreciation for the time-consuming work involved in these pieces. I love to use pieces like these as inspiration for some of the fiber pieces I make. I am really drawn to the bold colors, geometric shapes, and exquisite detail in these pieces. Maybe you will find some inspiration for some new pieces yourself!
This first piece is a woman's shoulder garment from the Dinka people from Sudan. It is made of glass beads, cowrie shells, and metal wire and is very lacy and delicate.
This chief's hat--Pende people, Democratic Republic of Congo--(made of fiber and glass beads) would be worn for important public appearances, rituals, and ceremonies. Among the Kuba and the Pende, finely made hats embellished with valuable materials, like imported glass beads, are important prestige possessions for royal titleholders. I love the bright colors and geometric shapes on this piece.
I was just fascinated with the beaded hats made by the African artisans. Below, you will see hats/crowns made by the Yoruba people from Nigeria. Royal rulers wear distinct crowns for different rituals and public occasions, but the most important and sacred one is the cone-like crown known as the "great crown." While wearing this crown, the ruler is so powerful that his or her face must be veiled to protect other people.
Now, this piece is FABULOUS. The detail in the face and birds is AMAZING. I'd love to examine these pieces more closely to see the base upon which these beaded pieces are built.
The last piece I'll show you today is also from the Yoruba people. It is referred to at the exhibit as a pillow, but it looks more like what we would call a small ottoman. It is made of cloth, glass beads and leather.