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JEWELRY OF ETHIOPIA – Symbols, Meanings, Identities

Aleksandra Prodanović-Bojović, MAA curator

SKC, Kralja Milana Street no. 48

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 at 6 p.m.

The rich cultural heritage of Ethiopia, that remained hidden to the European gaze for a long time, may be encountered through the artistic traditions that have flourished in these parts over the centuries. Jewelry as a decorative form linked to the body, has an animated presence in everyday life of the individual and community, thus documenting and transmitting cultural meanings.

The lecture will present the decorative traditions of Ethiopia that have arisen on different cultural basis. Besides cross-pendants of Christian believers and silver-beaded jewelry with motifs that date the ancient art of the Axum period – prolific bridal necklaces worn by Muslim women, talismanic xirisi pendants and other examples of art that reveal Indian and Arab artistic influences, will also be presented. By observing jewelry as a reservoir of symbols and meanings, a stylistic and anthropological analysis of certain types of objects will also be conducted. The transformation of jewelry into a visual sign that conveys the identity of different ethnic groups and overall Ethiopian identity will also be subject to examination.

The lecture will be complemented with a presentation on which basis it will be possible for those present to learn of the richness of materials, forms and types of jewelry that are part of the decorative heritage of Ethiopian peoples. The lecture accompanies the Jewelry of Ethiopia exhibition at the Museum of African Art, which will showcase original jewelry of the ethnic groups of Ethiopia.

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