Glossary of Terms
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African Blackwood is often called ebony, but is actually a harder wood that is not endangered.
Arsi pendants were worn by the Arsi Oromo people in Ethiopia. The pendants were worn as protection for the wearer's cattle.
Our bone is mostly cattle or antelope, sourced by local tribes who use all parts of animal for various uses- tools, clothing, food.
A Pokot father would wear a large aluminum leaf through his nose when his first daughter married.
Brass sunburst or Baule beads are made in wax casts by the people of Ghana and neighboring Cote d'Ivoire
Our faux amber is Bakelite, which is a polymer that was one of the first forms of plastic.
Powdered glass beads made from pulverized recycled glass (from old beads, bottles, jars, and stained glass windows) pressed into molds and fired in a kiln. This technique originates in Ghana from the 16th century--Gashi literally translates to "fired" in the local language.
hand of fatima
This is named after the Muslim prophet Muhammad's favorite daughter- the symbol is a consistent throughout ancient religions as a sign of luck or protection. It is known as Hand of Mary in Christianity and Hand of Miriam in Judaism.
This is not, in fact, a hippo's tooth. It is made from the shell of the Arca Clam, which lives in shallow warm saltwater on the West African coast.
Horn is created by modified skin tissue, has more flexibility than bone and is traditionally used in making household items ranging from cutlery to glasses, along with decorative pieces like jewelry and buttons. Most of our horn is sourced from Ankole cattle from Uganda.
Kanga OR KITENGE Cloth
East African patterned cotton cloth worn by women as headwraps, baby slings, skirts, dresses or sarongs. Kanga cloths have a border around the entire piece of fabric which often incorporate old adages or other small poems and phrases. Kitenge cloths usually only have one side with a border and are made of a thicker cotton.
Colorful West African fabric made of interwoven strips of cotton and silk. Originated by the Akan people of Southern Ghana.
Kenyan woven cotton fabrics-- lightweight and colorful! These are also multi-purpose pieces worn by men, women and children on the coast of Kenya.
Mosaic beads traditionally made in glass and more recently clay. Mille fiori is Italian for thousands of flowers and often refers to Venetian glasswork.
Masai women decorate their beadwork with N'Cheli typically made from aluminum, though ours are silver replicas.
Ostrich eggshell beads are the oldest known type of man-made bead. Another fun fact, one ostrich egg makes an omelette for 20 people.
Carved wooden beads made from the stems of asparagus trees and worn by the Pokot tribe in Western Kenya
The Samburu people are a nomadic tribe in Kenya originating from just south of Lake Turkana in Northwestern Kenya. The Samburu are known for wearing beautiful colorful beads-- the Samburu symbol is carved out of metal and hangs from the traditional headdresses of married Samburu women.
The ancient Egyptians believed a giant scarab (beetle) pushed the world round. They are said to bring good luck to the wearer.
Silver Gris Gris
Gris Gris is a fancy word for good luck charms. Historically, gris gris were leather or cloth pockets worn around the neck filled with various scriptures and symbols of good luck. The practice of wearing gris gris originated in Ghana but were adopted by various parts of the world via the slave trade.
Snake Trade Beads
These zig-zag beads were made to imitate the vertabrae of snakes, which were worn by chiefs and elite tribesman as protection from venomous snakebites. Some of the antique glass versions of this bead were made by the Czechoslovakian and Venetian beadmakers in the 19th century.
Surutia are decorative brass coils worn by Masai women for a variety of purposes. Married Masai women usually wear 2 of these surutia coils for ceremonies and the mothers of warriors wear a single surutia coil for her son's protection.
A North African nomadic tribe and subset of the Berber people of the Sahara. Tuareg symbols can mean a variety of things but many are non-Christian crosses and amulets worn for protection and a conduit of God's love.
Turkana refers to an area of North Kenya that includes Lake Turkana, which borders and partially flows in Ethiopia. The Turkana people are a pastoralist tribe that are known for their beautiful beadwork as well as their ability to survive in an incredibly harsh and dry part of Kenya.
Venetian Trade Beads
Trade Beads are glass beads used between the 16th and 20th century as a currency exchanged for goods, services and slaves. These were made to ease the passage of European explorers and traders across the African continent. Although the beads were made throughout Europe, the Venetian and Bohemian (of Czechoslovakia) people dominated the production of the beads.