Namibia is a unique country, full of diverse natural beauty - from the seaside to the sand dunes; skeleton coast to the savannah's of safari and the vast Kalahari desert. It also has a rich tribal tradition, such as ostrich eggshell bead making. According to archaeological studies, ostrich eggshell bead making is a 40,000 year-old tradition. Bushmen living in Namibia today are still making beads much the same way as their ancestors did thousands of years ago.
Traditionally, ostrich beads were fashioned into simple pieces of body adornment and exchanged as gifts by the original hunter-gatherers who roamed southern Africa. Today, however, the making of ostrich eggshell jewellery is an important source of income for several Ju/’hoansi and !Kung communities in Namibia. The shards of ostrich eggs are broken into tiny pieces, then each piece is rounded by chipping the edges with a piece of metal or nail clippers. Holes are drilled using a handmade tool – usually a sharpened piece of metal attached to a long wooden stick. The stick is then rolled between the palms of the hands to create a twisting movement that etches into the ostrich eggshell bead. The beads are strung on a piece of sinew and then the edges further smoothed using a grinding stone. Each piece takes not only a lot of time, but a lot of effort to create, and takes weeks to create, from start to finish.
I first found these two unique ostrich shell pieces while exploring at a Tribal Craft Market in Windhoek, Namibia last summer and immediatly fell in love with not only the story of how they are made, but the unique tradition that continues to carry on, 40,000 years later. Tracking down the tribes to create more pieces has proven challenging, for although they want the work, communication & production is difficult, making each piece even more rare & special. The natural color makes them easy to pair and wear with almost anything, year-round. I personally love pairing with black, red or cream-colored ethnic prints. Prepare for a lot of compliments and converstaion as I get asked about these pieces over & over again whenever I wear them! Tres chic!
Choose your style: Fan necklace, Sun necklace, or set of two.
- Fan Necklace is 11 inches in length and 3 inches wide.
- Sun Necklace is 10.5 inches in length and 2.5 inches wide.
- Wears high on the chest, much like a 16" to 17" chain will wear. Loop closures.
Please note that as these are handmade from natural materials, variances should be expected and celebrated.