Beads of Life – Eastern and Southern African Adornments

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2005-2006: Special Exhibitions Gallery A

The exhibition presents aspects of the history of personal adornment in eastern and southern Africa, through a range of objects drawn from Canadian collections. The principal function of these adornments is to identify the individual and his or her social group. Made exclusively by women, they are still used today in eastern and southern Africa, although in forms which change constantly. Despite a long decline in traditional beadwork, recent years have seen a renaissance in the creation of beaded adornments — made both as a source of income, and as a statement of personal and cultural identity.

The goal of the exhibition is to put these objects into perspective, by providing their function and usage at the time of their collection and by placing them in the context of the Africa of today through the visible participation of the local Eastern and Southern African community.