The shape of this rare ceremonial skirt from the Iraqw culture of central-north Tanzania has been made from sewn-together strips of animal hide. This animal-hide canvas has been beautifully decorated with rows of small red and white glass beads at the top, and red, white and blue beads at the bottom. The free-flowing zig-zag design at the top of the skirt signifies a river flowing through 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 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 and creativity of the individual maker.
Estimated Period: First half of 20th Century
L: 1.1m (Approx.)
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