Seek and You Shall Find

Posted on August 16, 2013

This exclusive one-off piece titled ‘Seek and You Shall Find’, features:

  • Antique glass Apothecary medicine bottle with small map of Paris enclosed, circa 1920s.
  • Pastel blue religious icon, and vintage enamel pectoral crucifix from Rome.
  • Antique hand-cast ‘bug’ beads from the Igbo Tribe of Africa (see history below).
  • Cowry shell clusters from East Timor.
  • Brass and miniature glass beading with knotted hemp detail on an adjustable brass chain.
  • AUD $439

The Igbo People:

The Igbo people, formerly known as ‘Ibo’ are one of the largest and 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 thick forest 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.

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