This page is a record of an exhibit that took place
in 1999. The individual links below will take you to
the CURRENT VERSION of the pages
that formed part of that exhibit.
Our second exhibit of African beadwork reinvents the wonderful color,
design, intricacy and symbolism of the original show in 1992, with all new
pieces. Most critical is the distinction that this is not an exhibit about
beads, but how they are used, in a variety of objects that different cultures
in Africa have created and decorated, working with small glass trade beads
and cowrie shells.
Yoruba beadwork from Nigeria is the most varied, ranging from a large selection of king's crowns, hats, dance panels, diviner bags and sashes, belts, vests and staffs, plus bowls and shrine objects adorned with cowrie shells.
This complex mask, with its elephant trunk and leopard skin, represents
kingly power in a ritualized reenactment of Kuba mythological origins and
royal power struggles. Portraying both the god Woot and the first
king, the character marries his sister, Ngaady A Mwaash, and contests
with his brother, Bwoom, who speaks for the commoners. As with most
Kuba art, the piece is highly covered with geometric abstract designs.
KUBA, NGAADY A MWAASH MASK, Zaire
This mask, covered with geometric designs typical of Kuba art, portrays the wife of the first Kuba king in a ritualized reenactment of Kuba mythological origins and royal power struggles. A Kuba ideal of beauty, Ngaady A Mwaash was fought over by Mwaash A Mboy, her husband and king, and his brother, Bwoom.