Beaded dolls made by the Ndebele tribe in Southern Africa are providing a source of income for over 70 women. The Ndebele (pronounced in-da-bey-lee) is one of the smallest groups of people (about 800,000) living in Southern Africa.
The Ndebele are noted for their extraordinarily beautifully painted homes of brilliant colors and their intricate beadwork.
One of the oldest and most revered practices is that of making dolls. A doll in African culture is not usually a childs toy but an object with rirual and religious significance. The clothes on the dolls and the patterns and colours of the beadwork are very symbolic and say something about the reason the doll is being made and given.
These superb dolls are now being made in more contemporary colours for a growing Western market. Making these dolls enables the women to enjoy the flexibility of working from home and caring for their children, and the ability to earn a dignified income in an area where there are very few job opportunities. The dolls are ornamental, and are meant to be kept in the home of the recipient to watch over them and ensure them a blessed journey through life.
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