Beaded Tribal House

Yoruba peoples

Federal Republic of Nigeria

Beaded Tribal House, n.d.

  • On View

Leather, beads, and textile

Dimensions: 28 × 20 in. (71.1 × 50.8 cm)

Gift of Dr. Robert and Deanna Harris Burger, 2005.44

Because of their small size and vibrant colors, beads are one of the most versatile and expressive mediums used in African art. Different patterns and colors indicate social rank, wealth, and marital status of owner. Kings display their power by wearing elaborate beaded costumes and sitting on beaded thrones. Evidence of beads in African art date back as early as the Neolithic period, using organic materials such as shells, stone, clay, metal, and bones. However, the introduction of glass beads through trade and colonization made glass the most popular means to decorate the surface of African art. Colorful seed beads like those used on this beaded hut gave rise to many fine bead-working traditions, including beaded sculpture. The imagery on this beaded hut may illustrate the culture’s lifestyle, history, or religious practices. The snake figure inside the hut wards off harm and protects the family.

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