Queen Bee of the Sea

Posted on September 5, 2013

We collect 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.

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 Queen Bee of the Sea, features:

  • Coral pendant from Australia.
  • Antique hand crafted ornate brass, and hand-cast trade beads from the Baule Tribe of the Ivory Coast, Africa (see history below).
  • Antique hand-cast brass beads from the Igbo Tribe of Nigeria, Africa (see history below).
  • Fish vertebrae trade beads from Gambia, Africa.
  • Antique brass beads handcrafted by the Yoruba Tribe of Nigeria, West Africa (see history below).
  • Shell clusters with brass and wooden beading on knotted hemp with an adjustable brass chain.
  • AUD $429
Length: 32.5cm
Width of coral pendant: 2cm
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.


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 colonizatio

n 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 Igbo Tribe:
The Igbo people, formerly known as ‘Ibo’ are one of the largestand most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria. They live mainly in the forested areas of southwest Nigeria, on both sides of the Niger River, and the Igbo number some ten million individuals. They are subdivided into thirty-three subgroups and are spread out among about two hundred villages scattered through thickforest and semi-fertile marshland.
The heads of families form the council of elders which shares its power with numerous secret societies. These societies exercise great political and social influence. They are hierarchical, with their members passing from one level to the next. There is strong social pressure toward individual distinction and men can move upward through successive grades by demonstrating their achievements and their generosity.
Due to the effects of the Atlantic slave trade and migration, it is believed that many African Americans and Afro Carribeans are partially of Igbo descent. The transatlantic slave trade, which took place between the 16th and late 19th century, greatly affected the Igbo People. Most Igbo slaves were taken from the Bight of Biafra (also known as the Blight of Bonny). This area included modern day southeastern Nigeria, Western Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and parts of Northern Gabon.
At major trade ports, Igbo slaves were sold to Europeans by the Aro Confederacy who kidnapped or bought them from villages in

the hinterland. However, not all Igbo slaves were victims of slave raiding, wars or expeditions, often they were debtors and people who committed what their communities considered to be abominations or crimes. Igbo slaves were well known for being rebellious and having a high rate of suicide in defiance of slavery. Contrary to common belief, European slave traders were fairly informed about various African ethnicities. This led to slavers' targeting certain ethnic groups that plantation owners preferred. For unknown reasons, the Igbo women were highly sought after in slave trading.

The Yoruba People:
With a population close to 40 million, the Yoruba People are one of the largest tribal ethnic groups of West Africa, found pre


dominantly in Nigeria. One distinguishing feature of the Yoruba are their tribal markings, also known as tribal beautification or scarification marks. This practice is considered an ancient art and cultural activity for the Yoruba.

Due to the sheer number of individuals within the Yoruba, these tribal markings became a way and means of identifying the origin of an individual, their lineage, and which community or sub-tribe they belonged to within the Kingdom of the Yoruba.
Tribal marks were also originally made on young children in an attempt to protect them from slave trading. It was the absence of these markings, which made them vulnerable to being captured. For those tribe members who were sold into slavery, these markings allowed the Yoruba people to identify and recognize one another.
Sacred text describes the history of tribal marks. It is believed King Sango, who reigned during the Oyo Empire, sent two slaves to a distant country on an important mission. In due course they returned and the King found that one slave had successfully achieved what he had been sent to do, while the other had accomplished nothing. The king therefore rewarded the first with high honors and commanded the second to receive a hundred and twenty two cuts all over his body. This was considered a severe punishment, although when the scars healed they gave the slave a rather remarkable aesthetic appearance which took the fancy of the King’s wives.
Sango decided that in the future, cuts should not be given as punishment but rather as a sign of royalty, at once placing himself in the hands of the markers. However, the king could only stand the first two cuts, so from that day onwards two cuts on the arm have been the sign of royalty. Various other markings came to identify different tribes.

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