Jewellery has been made and worn in Africa as far back as has been documented. Whether being worn on a daily basis, being somewhat roar and basic or being worn for a special ceremony when the jewellery is more elaborate it has its own significance in African history. Africa is where people first made and wore jewellery. Necklaces, pendants, bracelets, bangles, earrings and other types of tribal jewellery are a few of the many forms that African jewellery would take. Beyond their use of self- adornment pieces also have cultural significance. For example jewellery may indicate the wealth of an individual/individuals, power and standing with-in the society.
Through-out history Africans have used the materials that were readily available to then in their area/region to create their jewellery. Some of the most commonly found and used materials would be ivory (not so widely used today!), carved stones, bone, seashells (cowries), both animal teeth and hair, eggshell (typically ostrich), wood, amber and glass (small beads). Glass bead work jewellery being probably the most well know and recognised. At one time beads produced in Africa were referred to as trade beads as for centuries they were used as a form of currency. Trade with other people began to happen increasing the types of materials available to craftsmen who then could create even more beautiful pieces of jewellery.
Craftsmen continue to produce traditional beadwork unique to their own tribal regions today. Producing such beautiful beaded jewellery still is a major source of income for many tribal people of Africa.
When Dutch settlers first arrived in southern Africa in 1652, they called the original inhabitants “Bushmen.” For the next two centuries, the European newcomers waged a grim and successful war of extermination in the south, in what is presently the Republic of South Africa.
A beautiful and old Kuba Mbup royal ceremonial headband from the Democratic Republic of Congo. A tribally piece of ceremonial jewellery worn by Kuba royal families, this is a head band called “Mbup” These are on a textile backing adorned with glass beads, and cowrie shells on a red material with string ties. They were the sign of powerful and wealthy persons.
A lovely pair of Manila bangles were collected by a world war 2 veteran during his post out in Nigeria during WW2, and part of his very large collection . We purchased them from a deceased collectors estate auction. These are lovely examples of old Manila bangles.
A lovely pair of Queen Manila bangles were collected by a world war 2 veteran during his post out in Nigeria during WW2, and part of his very large collection .
This lovely brass ring came from an old collection of a now deceased collector. He acquired his large collection whilst being posted in Nigeria during WW11 times and for a while after.
Kuba Mabliim dance adornments. The set is made up of four bracelets two that would adorn the wrists leaving the remaining two for the ankles. Mabiim as they are known, are made by beautifully
This lovely Nigerian brass bangle came from an old collection of a now deceased collector. He acquired his large collection whilst being posted in Nigeria during WW11 and continued to collect for a while
Just like a piece of jewellery reflects the wearer’s unique and personal style, it’s chosen manufacturing method is intended to produce a desired signature style. As within most African tribes jewellery is a well used.