Neckpiece with panel (umphapheni)

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The seed beads that make up this neckpiece were imported to southern Africa by European traders who tailored their wares to local tastes and color preferences; beads came first from Venice and Murano, and later from Bohemia in the twentieth century.


Consisting of a tasseled length attached to a rectangular panel joined by metal buttons, this neckpiece (umphapheni) was likely worn along with waistbands and headpieces with the same color scheme and patterns. Joined together using stitches and zig-zag patterns popular around the turn of the 20th century, glass beadwork was heavy to wear. The fringe—typical of Zulu-style Northern Nguni beadwork—added additional weight. The imported glass beads testify to centuries of trade connections between southern Africa and Europe, while the brass buttons—probably drawn from a British soldier’s uniform—allude to the Anglo-Zulu conflicts of the 1800s.
Neckpiece with panel (umphapheni)

Neckpiece with panel (umphapheni)


Africa, Southern African, South Africa, Southeast Cape Region, Northern Nguni (Zulu)-style maker

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