Philippines: SA Jewellery Exhibit at Tam-Awan International Arts Festival
(L-R) Ambassador Delia Albert, NCCA Director Emelita Almosara, Ambassador Agnes Nyamande-Pitso and the Traditional Leader Mr. Jordan Mang-Osan, President of Chanun Foundation.
Ambassador Agnes Nyamande-Pitso exhibited South African (SA) jewellery and gave a talk at the Tam-Awan (Heritage) Festival on 17 May 2013 at the Tam-Awan Village in Baguio City. This Tam-Awan celebration focused on the Cordilleras (indigenous people) in Northern Luzon whereby their culture, the art works and dancing was showcased. Prior to the press conference, Ambassadors Delia Albert and Agnes Nyamande-Pitso and the Director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Ms Emelita Almosara planted the avocado trees for the benefit of the environment.
The similarities between the culture, traditional wear, art and dancing with that of the black people in SA was quite amazing. The bead work was even more intriguing, as some bead designs were similar to the Venda, Zulu and Xhosa people. The differences was in the way they wear beads on the waist or sown on to the cloth with brass or silver metal (fertility charms) instead of wearing around the neck. The most interesting was the necklace made of boar tusk called the “Bontoc Warrior Ritual (Boaya) Head Hunting” necklace worn by the traditional leaders.
Ambassador Nyamande-Pitso flanked by two young traditional dancers and standing behind a ‘waterfall’ of colourful beads
The Ambassador’s presentation centered on bead work of the Zulus, Vendas, Xhosas, Ndebeles and the San people including gold designs. The presentation was visual and interactive showing similarities between these nationalities and the Cordilleras. The Ambassador went on to talk about the fusion of the traditional and the contemporary Jewelry, i.e. how one influenced the other especially since the boom of mining in South Africa and how history also influences the present jewellery. Ambassador Albert’s presentation talked about the importance of mining as this is important for the jewellery industry.
Some of the interesting questions asked are: How far back does the history of beadwork go in South Africa? Where does South Africa get her beads from? Do South Africans bury their dead with gold jewellery in the coffins like the Cordilleras? Did the old generations use gold to barter for goods like the Cordilleras who exchanged gold for goods with the Chinese? These questions could not be answered without highlighting a) the history of apartheid South Africa and b) the ownership of resources prior and during the Pre-colonial period (1075-1220) especially in SA’s Lost City of Gold, Mapungubwe. During the latter period, gold, copper, exotic glass and ostrich egg beads are said to have been used for barter trading with East Africa, Egypt, India and China.
SA Embassy Manila, Philippines