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Wedding Train (Nyoka)

This wedding train would have been worn by a young woman as part of her wedding ensemble, attached to the wedding cape or blanket or hung from the bride’s neck or head. The name nyoka, “snake,” refers to the appearance of the train as it moves behind the bride while she dances. Unlike much Ndebele beadwork, the beads of the nyoka are not attached to fabric, fiber, or animal skin, but instead they are individually sewn together. The predominance of white beads and the small size and simplicity of geometric patterns created by colored beads indicate that this wedding train dates to the early twentieth century.

Ndebele peoples, South Africa
Wedding Train (Nyoka)
Early 20th century
Glass beads, cotton thread
Total L. 77 in. (195.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Claire and Michael Oliver, 81.58