Humble Beginnings

Posted on August 18, 2013

Republic of You collects a vast array of vintage, antique and collectible items from across the globe. We breathe new life into forgotten relics from history creating unique and meaningful exclusive one-off pieces of wearable art.

We encourage individuality whilst at the same time celebrating history, art, fashion and creativity. Each piece individually handcrafted in our Byron Bay studio is given its own unique title and an accompanying story listing the features incorporated within the piece.

This piece titled Humble Beginnings, features:

  • Old brass cylinder box from Tibet, with fabric mantras enclosed.
  • Antique mala yak bone prayer beads with copper and metal inlays from Tibet (see history).
  • Handmade ‘lost wax’ beads, from the Ashanti People of the Ivory Coast, West Africa (see history).
  • Antique hand-cast brass tubular trade beads from the Baule Tribe of Africa (see history).
  • Bone disc beads from Nepal.
  • Cowry shell clusters from East Timor.
  • Brass beading, knotted cotton and an adjustable brass chain.
  • AUD $449


The Baule Tribe:

The Baule also known as Baoulé, are one of the largest ethnic groups of the Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in Africa. They played a central role in twentieth-century history of their country having waged the longest war of resistance to French colonization of any West African people, whilst also managing to maintain their traditional beliefs and objects for longer than many other ethnic groups.

According to a legend, during the eighteenth century when Ashanti rose to power, the Baule led by Queen Pokou were forced to leave Ghana as it’s known today. Fleeing for their lives, they travelled west and arrived at the shores of the Comoe, a large river they were unable to cross. The tribe began to throw their most prized possessions into the river. The Queen realized their most valuable possession was her son, and in order to save the tribe she needed to sacrifice him to the river.


Upon throwing him in, a large hippopotamus rose from the river allowing the tribe to cross, thus saving their lives. After the crossing, Queen Pokou was so distraught about losing her son she kept repeating ‘baouli’, ‘baouli’, meaning ‘the child is dead’. This sacrifice was the origin of the name of the tribe, and from that point onwards they were known as the Baoulé.


The Ashanti People:

The Ashanti, or Asante People are a major ethnic group of the Akans who live in central Ghana and the rainforests of West Africa. They developed a large and influential empire in West Africa dominating much of modern day Ghana and the Ivory Coast from the 17th through to the late 19th century.

The Ashanti religion is a fusion of both supernatural and spiritual elements. They believe all plants, animals, and trees contain souls. Some tribes also believe in fairies, witches, and forest monsters.

The Ashanti People are widely known for their highly sacred and symbolic Golden Stool. According to legend, during a meeting of clan heads during the 17th Century, Okomfo Anokye, high priest, and mystic wisdom advisor, called the Golden Stool down from the heavens where it descended from the skies and rested upon the lap of the first Ashanti King.

This sacred stool represents the birth of the Ashanti Kingdom, and is believed to house the spirit of the Asante nation – the living, the dead and those yet to be born. Just as man cannot live without a soul, so the Ashanti would cease to exist if the Golden Stool were to be taken from them.

This Golden Stool is considered so sacred that not even the King was allowed to sit on it. In fact, no man has ever sat on it, nor has it ever touched the ground. Instead, it lies upon its own throne, or is placed on a blanket or the skin of an animal. During inauguration each new king is raised and lowered over the stool without touching it.

Several wars have broken out over the ownership of the Golden Stool. In 1896, the Ashanti allowed their king, Premph I, to be exiled rather than resort to war in which they feared they may suffer defeat, and lose both the war and the Golden Stool in the process. In 1900, Sir Frederick Hodgson the Governor of the Gold Coast (Ivory Coast) demanded to be allowed to sit on the Golden Stool, and ordered that a search for it be conducted. This provoked an armed rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool, which resulted in the annexation of Ashanti to the British Empire, but preserved the sanctity of the stool. In 1920 a group of African road workers discovered the stool and stripped it of its gold ornaments. The road workers were taken into protective custody by the British, before being tried according to local custom and sentenced to death. The British intervened and the group was instead banished. The British gave an assurance of non-interference in regards to the stool, and it was brought out of hiding.


Yak Bone Mala Prayer Beads:

Buddhist prayer mala beads have been used for centuries to count sacred mantra, prayers or ones breath. Buddhist literature roughly translates ‘mala’ to mean heavenly garland. The main intention of mala beads is to drive away evil and to fill yourself, and all beings with peace and bliss. Mala prayer beads are used with the intention to bring greater happiness, joy, loving-kindness and serenity into the world. They also bring forth greater harmony and balance into ones life, both spiritually and emotionally.

Traditionally the use of Yak bone in mala beads is to remind an individual of ones mortality or impermanence. It is believed the more one contemplates impermanence, the more fruitful life will become. Yak bone is also said to help maintain good blood circulation.

As true with all sacred objects, it is important to keep your mala off of the ground. It is also considered wise to remove your mala before going to bed at night, as it is believed the potentially turbulent or negative mental and emotional activity during sleep may affect its accumulated magnetism.


Length: 36cm
Width of neckpiece: 12cm
Width of mantra box: 8cm
Length is measured from the clasp at the back of neck to the end of the piece.
The piece is fastened at its longest point for this measurement.
Width is measured at the widest point of the main feature.
Due to the handcrafted nature of this product sizing may vary slightly from the dimensions listed.

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