This year international bead-company Preciosa Ornella invited traditional African beaders to enter a competition with the aim to encourage new, quality CraftArt done in beads. The Venda, Tsonga and Northern Sotho people in Limpopo are excellent beaders and Madi a Thavha did not hesitate to help 8 beaders from Limpopo to enter the competition.
Chrystal valley, the place where Czech seed beads come into the world
The Preciosa Group is a company that comes from the heart of Europe’s Chrystal valley in the Czech Republic surrounded by mountains and forests. It is here that Czech glass seed beads have been produced for over 400 years. The seed beads are sold in more than 80 countries in 5 continents of the world. PRECIOSA ORNELA produces around 4 thousand tons of them every year.
Africa has a long, colourful history of beads
“We give objects their meaning in the way we use them; they reflect the beliefs and values of the people who use them.”
Trade beads are decorative glass beads and were used during the 16th and 20th century as a currency in exchange for goods and services. The success of this form of currency can largely be attributed to the high intrinsic value African people put upon decorative items. Africans often used beads for wealth storage and social status could be easily determined by the quality, quantity and style of jewellery worn. This created a high demand for trade beads in Africa for ages.
Different colours and Designs expose identity and belonging.
On the continent of Africa, beads are one of the oldest of material media in craft production. Beads in various colours and different colour combinations are used abundantly in craft work production:
For defining status of age groups; To signify royalty; To highlight various categories of group identity and belonging and for social ethnic and group differentiation and association.
Beads speak their own language
By learning the language of beads in Africa, you can understand some of the hidden meanings, messages and the symbolism, which is such a strong vehicle of communication. For example, white beads speak of the ancestors while white & black in combination, reveals that the wearer is the custodian of the family ancestors.
Beaded attire informs us when a young girl is ready to get a husband. It shows the status of a woman who is of marriageable age, who are married and who are beyond childbearing age. Beads play a major role in attracting members of the opposite sex and certain beads are worn only during special ceremonies.
Beads also contain messages about special moments in life such as rites of passage, birth, initiation, marriage, adulthood and death.