Image Gallery → Dialogue with the Spirit World

  • Small Bag
  • Female Twin Figure
  • Divination Tapper
  • Lidded Vessel
  • Lidded Vessel (Beer Pot)
  • Lidded Vessel
  • Diviner's Bag
  • Diviner's Headdress
  • Koranic Amulet
Small Bag

Small Bag

San People
South Africa, Namibia and Botswana
Small Bag
20th Century
Antelope hide, ostrich egg-shell beads, fiber, glass beads
Gift of Norma Canelas Roth and William D. Roth
2006.45.11

The hunter-gatherers, known generically as San peoples have endured for millennia in South Africa and Namibia, although their existence is now threatened. They continue to produce ostrich egg-shell beads that resemble the oldest known beads on the continent, but in the last century have also used imported glass beads. Early San beadwork had minimal patterning, but more recent beadwork has become increasingly complex, utilizing a number of geometric motifs. Some suggested interpretations of motifs are that they are abstractions or mappings of the environment, such as animal tracks or human dwellings, to shamanistic visions. The spiral motif on this bag is called “owl.”

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