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Wedding Ensemble for a Bride (Umtshakazi)

A work made of cotton cloth, glass beads, mother of pearl beads, thread, and leather.

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  • A work made of cotton cloth, glass beads, mother of pearl beads, thread, and leather.




Eastern Cape, South Africa
Eastern and Southern Africa

About this artwork

For the Thembu and other Xhosa-speaking peoples, the beauty, translucence, and weight of layers of beaded ornaments have spiritual dimensions. Shiny, reflective materials are associated with enlightenment, purity, and access to the ancestral realm. Thembu beadworking flourished among young women in the 1940s and 1950s, but declined in the 1960s. Each of the items in this wedding ensemble was lovingly made. Many are notable for their creative reuse of materials: for example, the bracelet from which a handkerchief is suspended; the armlets made of twisted brass wire; and the beaded teaspoon necklaces, which were intended to make the marriage sweet.


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa




Wedding Ensemble for a Bride (Umtshakazi)


South Africa (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Cotton cloth, glass beads, mother of pearl beads, thread, and leather


H.: 114 cm (44 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by the Woman's Board of the Art Institute of Chicago; partial gift of Axis Gallery (Gary Van Wyk and Lisa Brittan)

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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