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Xhosa Beaded Love Letter Necklace, South Africa

Africa | Beaded anklet from the Xhosa people of South Africa | ca. 1870 - 1930 | Skin, glass beads and plant fiber.

Africa | An 'Amapasi' necklace from the Xhosa people of South Africa | Beads and buttons | ca. 1960s/70s | The tag attached to these small panels similar to the Zulu neck ornament "lover letter" indicates that these beadworks are from the Xhosa of Egunsi clan. It is possible that these beadworks were used as neck ornament or jewelry for Xhosa young men.

South Africa | Necklace from the Xhosa people of the eastern Cape region | Glass bead, string and buttons | ca. 1960s/70s | 90$

South Africa | Necklace " Isigcina/Amatikiti" with 9 "love letters" from the Xhosa people of the eastern Cape region. | Glass beads, string and mother of pearl button | ca. 1960s/70s | 95$

Africa | Two Xhosa men dressed for a tribal dance. South Africa

South Africa | Necklace; costume element of a young uninitiated man | Cotton, leather, wool, glass beads | Nguni / Thembu / Xhosa people

Africa | Collar/necklace from the Xhosa people of South Africa | Glass beads, metal, fiber

South Africa | Beaded panel ~ impondweni ~ from the Zulu people | Glass beads and cotton.

South Africa | Two 'love letter' necklaces | Glass beads and cotton string | ca. 1960s

South Africa | Beaded panel necklace ~ isibebe ~ from the Zulu people | Glass beads and cotton | 20th century

  • Monika Ettlin

    The geometric motifs on this beaded “love letter” would be legible to Zulus who knew the old color sequences and patterns. The central chevron motif with red, turquoise, blue and yellow and flanking a similar sequence in the diamond-shaped shields are affirmations of love and protection. Specifically the chevron may be read as “heart in my heart,” or simply “in my heart.” The white field and intertwined red and white cord show love, purity of heart and devotion.

Africa | Necklace from the Xhosa (Mpondo?) people of South Africa | ca. early 21st century | Plant fiber and glass beads