Jogolo (apron) - ROM2019_17315_17


Jogolo (apron)

Maker: Unidentified Ndebele artist
Medium:Beads, cloth, leather
Geography: South Africa
Date: early-late 20th century
60.5 × 57.5 cm
Object number: 2004.80.31
Credit Line: This acquisition was made possible by the generous support of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust.
Not on view

For the Ndebele peoples of South Africa, garments play the important role of indicating social status or occasion. When a girl achieves womanhood she dons an apron specific to her social position, marital status, and the event at hand. The style and design on these aprons is based on aesthetic trends, which change when the women see them as no longer fashionable. Early aprons utilized more simple abstract geometric designs within the traditional mediums of animal hides, straw, and glass beads. But, as access to the western market has grown, the practice has transitioned to include words and images in a vast array of mediums from metal to plastic.

Ijogolo (jogolo s.) are a formal five-panel beaded apron worn by married Ndebele women. Although not exclusively a bridal apron, ijogolo are embroidered by the bride and first worn by her during the initial phase of marriage. During this phase, the potential husband negotiates the bridal price (lobola) with the bride’s family.

For a new bride, the jogolo embodies important aspects of the marriage ceremony. The five flaps on the jogolo symbolize the couple’s prospects for children. Likewise, the jogolo itself represents the marital status of the bride and will be worn in the future during formal events.

Domestic imagery is common in most Ndebele garments worn by women. The central image of a house on this jogolo is completed using bold black, blue, purple, and green beads that are common in beadworks from the 1960s and 1970s. The house includes details like windows, doors, and chimneys, which shows changing aesthetic tastes towards more lifelike representations of domestic spaces. The jogolo also contains what appears to be a plant made up of geometric shapes on its central flap.

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