South Africa, Southern Nguni people, 19th or 20th century
leather, glass beads, sinew
Overall - h:35.60 cm (h:14 inches)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund
This is an exquisite example of a rare type of swallowtail-shaped apron worn by young female initiates until the mid-19th century. On the upper portion, the black beads were applied in such a way that they can be read as a human face or even as a full figure. In fact, the overall form of the apron can be viewed as representing the lower torso and legs of a woman with a neatly marked pubic region.