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  • Beaded Doll (Ham Pilu)
  • Beaded Apron
  • Beaded Apron
  • Beaded Apron
  • Elephant Mask
  • Man's Prestige Hat (ashetu)
  • Face Mask
  • Male Royal Ancestor Mask
  • Kuba Belt
  • Kuba Belt
  • Kuba Belt
  • Sash with Triangular Pendant
  • Hat (Mpaan)
  • Hat
  • Beaded Coronet
  • Beaded Coronet
  • Beaded Coronet
  • Female Twin Figure
  • Royal Slippers
  • Divination Tapper
  • Beaded Crown (adenla)
  • Diviner's Bag
  • Seated Female Figure
  • Fertility Figure
  • Small Bag
  • Doll
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  • Ndebele Doll
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  • Dance Staff
  • Dance Staff
  • Married Woman's Apron
  • Gala Blanket
  • Child Figure
  • Wrap Skirt
  • Diviner's Headdress
  • Man's Wedding Apron
  • Lidded Vessel
  • Lidded Vessel
  • Lidded Vessel (Beer Pot)
  • Beaded Panel
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  • Beaded Panel
  • Beaded Panel
  • Beaded Panel
  • Beaded Panel
  • Beaded Panel
  • Beaded Panel
  • Beaded Panel
  • Man's Back Tie
  • Beaded Panel
  • Beaded Panel Pin
  • Doll
  • Woman's Tobacco Bag
  • Woman's Purse
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  • Child Figure
  • Bridal Walking Stick
  • Child's Apron
  • Wedding Cape
  • Married Woman's Belt
  • Young Matron's Dress
  • Koranic Amulet
  • Beaded Earflap
  • Beaded Earflap
Child Figure

Child figure (mwana)

Tsonga People
South Africa
Child Figure (nwana)
Late 20th Century
Cloth, glass beads, buttons, metal beads, wood, tin can
Gift of Norma Canelas Roth and William D. Roth
2006.45.7

Young Tsonga women make child figures referred to as nwana and dance with them during their initiation ceremonies, or thomba. The initiate holds the nwana in the palm of her hand, and presents it to a young man of her choice. The stout, cylindrical form covered with various polychrome beaded patterns, bears a type stiff cloth skirt that mimics those worn by mature women. The small loops on the top represent a popular style of earrings, and the buttons indicate facial features. The nwana, called “child” but dressed as a woman and presented to a prospective husband, is symbolic of her transition to womanhood, and becoming a wife and mother.

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