Beaded Ndebele Initiation Doll

c. 1950
$218 USD
Make an Offer
W: 3.75" D: 2.5" H: 11.5"
Mixed Materials
Purchase Quantity
Collection #
Estimated Shipping

A rare imported commodity, glass beads have been a symbol of wealth and importance in south African cultures for centuries, and were exclusively distributed by the region's oba (king). As beads became gradually more accessible throughout the 19th century, they began to displace the organic materials used in traditional art and attire.

This colorful example of African beadwork is an initiation doll of the Ndebele people of South Africa. These dolls are made with tall wooden bodies, layered in cotton and highly decorated with various fabrics, metal rings and dense beadwork. The doll is dressed in a traditional apron used to signify a married woman's status as a parent. Wrapped around the neck and legs are silver bangles, an old Ndebele tradition used to symbolize a woman's bond and faithfulness to her husband. Traditional dolls like these were believed to be protective objects for women who are expecting children. Mounted on wooden blocks, the colorful doll now lives on as a storied work of sculpture.

From the collection of Frances and Gary Comer.

Questions? Ask us

What They're Saying

Suzanne Lovell | Suzanne Lovell, Inc.

“I am particularly fond of PAGODA RED as we have known the family for so long. Betsy is a professional in every way and her intelligent taste comes from a long line of family knowledge in the arts. She and her team are the very best to work with and we find treasures with every visit!”

Receive our weekly email on design &
creating memorable spaces