Apron (mapoto) - ROM2019_17315_35


Apron (mapoto)

Maker: Unidentified Ndebele artist
Medium:Glass beads on hide
Geography: South Africa
Date: 1970s ?
59.5 x 49 cm
Object number: 988.54.1
Not on view

For the Ndebele peoples of South Africa, garments play the important role of indicating social status. When a girl achieves womanhood she wears an apron specific to her social position, marital status, and the event at hand.

A mapoto is a stiff rectangular beaded apron with a section of beaded fringes in the lower centre, separating two beaded rectangular panels, worn by married women.

The style and design of the aprons are based on aesthetic trends. These trends vary amongst different regions and change if the style is no longer fashionable. The oldest of Ndebele aprons from the 19th century into the early 20th century are mainly white with simple geometric patterns. Later aprons of the 20th century are more intricate and colourful, reflecting access to Western markets and Western cultural influences.

The design of this mapoto reflects the fashion of the 1970s. This is a less formal, beaded rectangular apron worn by a married woman. The depiction of houses in the design is common in the mapoto of the 1970s.

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