Dancing beads- some history

Yesterday we sat around the table in the GAPA centre chatting and singing with the grandmothers as they made beaded necklaces and knitted teddy bears. The grandmothers gather everyday to do beading and learn new designs from Florence (Income-generation coordinator).

Mrs Bokwe began telling her story of the beautiful necklace she had carefully wrapped in her bag. I thought is was so special and asked permission to publish it on the blog.

Mrs Evelyn Bokwe had in her hand her necklace that she describes is almost 40years old. She made it when she was in her early twenties when living in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. Her mother taught her how to make the design. She says the beads are no longer available in today’s bead stores and she regards it as a very special heirloom. The necklace is made in a traditional Xhosa design with colours that indicate the Xhosa tribe. She used to wear the necklace on special occasions, like dances on the weekend, together with beads on her head and a beaded belt. Mrs Bokwe says is was very important to look pretty at these events, its also where one could find a husband (she giggled).

Mrs Bokwe says sadly her daughter doesn’t need the necklace but she is making similar necklaces for her granddaughters.

Now that she is a grandmother she also has a beaded pipe, which she doesn’t smoke, but has to show her status.

This is a new necklace she has made to be sold for R200 in the GAPA craft store. Each grandmother keeps 90% of the sale and 10% goes towards running the store.
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