The Story of Ones Life
Posted on September 15, 2013
We collect a vast array of vintage, antique and collectible items from across the globe and 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 The Story of Ones Life, features:
- Antique Ethiopian leather talisman amulet scroll, traditionally gifted at birth to give protective properties, healing, and blessings (see history below).
- Skull pendants hand carved from naturally shed deer antler using a 300-year-old design passed down through generations of a family of carvers.
- Antique hand-cast brass tubular and trade beads from the Baule Tribe of the Ivory Coast, Africa (see history below).
- Old ostrich eggshell disk beads from Kenya, Africa (see history below).
- Cowry shell clusters from East Timor.
- Coconut and brass beading on knotted hemp string on an adjustable brass chain.
- AUD $679
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.
History of the Scroll:
Leather amulet scrolls from Ethiopia, also known as Kitabe’s, are traditionally written for one particular person and worn by that individual for his or her lifetime. The Ethiopian Coptic Christians strongly believe in the healing and protective properties of scripture. Coptic Priests, following ancient practice, made these Kitabe’s for protection, healing and blessings, believing that individuals wearing one of these amulets would ward off evil.
Although difficult to date, the scrolls were made as early as the fourteenth century and continued through until about 1850 when it’s believed the practice ceased.
Each Kitabe is different and the content for each varies. The written text is in Ethiopic (Ge’ez), a Semitic language that is no longer spoken but still used for liturgical and other religious purposes by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
The scrolls inside are occasionally paper, but are most often vellum, an animal skin parchment usually goat or calfskin. This vellum is prepared by a lengthy exposure in lime, then scraped with a rounded knife and finally rubbed smooth with pumice stone. The vellum is often scored with a pin and then written in black ink, with titles and holy names often scribed in red. Pictures or diagrams would occasionally be included, but almost always the baptismal name of the scrolls intended owner would feature. The leather amulet case was made from tanned leather with the scroll either rolled or folded tightly before being wrapped and carefully sewn into the leather casing. A leather loop on top of the pendant would enable the amulets to be threaded and worn around the neck.
Ostrich Eggshell Beads:
Ostrich eggshell beads are considered the oldest known man-made bead in history. Archaeologists discovered ostrich eggshell beads along with numerous other artifacts in the Loiyangalani River Valley, Tanzania, East Africa. These archaeologists believed they originated from the African Middle Stone Age between 28,000 and 45,000 years ago.
Ostrich eggshells are considered a gift from the gods. Not only does the inside of the egg feed a family, the outside can be used as a water vessel, once broken or cracked, the eggshell can then be made into beads. In addition to their value as objects or personal decoration, ostrich eggshell beads also serve as a means of barter.
Ostrich eggshell beads symbolize fertility, prosperity, good luck and good fortune. This ancient laborious and tedious craft is still practiced by the San Bushman women today. The lengthy process of their creation makes them relatively scarce and highly valued.
Width of leather amulet: 6cm
- 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.
- Deer naturally shed their antlers. When purchasing antlers for production of our hand carved skulls, we ensure we utilise the whole antler by also carving miniature skulls that we incorporate into many of our one-off pieces.