UCLA Fowler Museum

Powerful Bodies Zulu Arts of Personal Adornment

The exhibit Powerful Bodies Zulu Arts of Personal Adornment at UCLA Fowler Museum was filled with some interesting things about different cultures all over the world. From accessories, clothing, silverwares, masks, figures, to many more. I will be showing some of the things I came across that were eye catching.

The first adornment I found really interesting were belts made from the Zulu people in South Africa during the mid-20th century. These belts were made from cotton, glass, brass buttons, and beads. They are absolutely beautiful and very detailed. Women and men both wore these belts to cover up the loin areas. If I remember, it is said that a woman wears a certain belt to show her status, if she is married or not.

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The second object is a wedding jacket from the Miao people in Guizhou, China during the 1900’s. This tunic shaped jacket was made to be waterproof out of cotton and silk. Dying with indigo and then boiling it with pig’s blood and hide. It is then coated over with egg whites, dried and rubbed for a polished touch. The images are not only for embellishments but the embroidery also tells a story of the Miao people.

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Relating to The Dress Body, Joanne Entwistle stated from Merleau-Ponty’s analysis of how “Dress is always located spatially and temporally: when getting dressed one orients oneself/body to the situation, acting in particular ways upon the surfaces of the body which are likely to fit within established norms of the situation. Thus the dressed body is not a passive object, acted upon by social forces, but actively produced to a particular routing and mundane practices.” (pg. 45-46) In the identity of the belts, it is an object on a woman’s body that indicates whether she is married or not. It is not passive where they are forced to wear it but rather a tradition. For the jacket, one wears it on an occasional day which is their wedding. They act a certain way when dressed in this attire, the jacket speaks for itself as statement that it is a special day for who is wearing it and it falls in the norms of the Miao people.

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