The shape of this rare beaded ceremonial skirt from the Iraqw culture of central-north Tanzania has been constructed from very fine strips of goat skin, which have been woven together to form the blank canvas of the skirt. The ceremonial skirt’s central band is decorated with seven circular beaded designs, representing the sun.
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 were a display of their skill and dexterity.
Iraqw skirts are amongst the most elaborately decorated beaded costumes from the African continent. Each skirt is unique, the design being a product of the skill of the individual maker.
Estimated Period: First half of 20th Century