After an Ndebele women was married for several months she could wear this type of apron called a mapoto. It is made from softened sheep or goat skin, the two hanging lappets are said to represent the husband and wife with the abundant fringe in the center representing the hoped for children.
Mapoto in the early part of the 20th century were scarcely beaded using almost exclusively white beads and using sinew to string the beads. Towards the mid 20th century more colors were used and more of the skin are was covered, by the 1960’s and 70’s the palette had changed completely with with most of the beads being colored and cloth being used as the background, not skin.
Provenance: David Lewin Collection, David Smith Collection
Reference: Published: Spirit of Africa Southern Africa by Design