The shape of this beaded ceremonial skirt from the Iraqw culture of central-north Tanzania has been made from strips of sewn-together animal hide. This animal hide canvas has been beautifully decorated with rows of small red and white glass beads at the top. Intricate zig-zag designs, signifying a river, decorate the central section of the skirt. The composition and design of the beads is representative of a mythical Iraqw landscape.
The skirts were made by young girls as part of the Iraqw women’s initiation ritual known as Marmo. Through participation in Marmo, Iraqw girls transitioned from puberty into womanhood. Their beaded ceremonial skirts are a display of their skil land dexterity.
Iraqw skirts are amongst the most elaborately decorated beaded costumes from the African continent.
Field collected in the 1990s
Estimated Period: Mid-20th Century (Or Before)
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