Adornments

“Adornments” features shoes, hats, jewelry, belts, sashes, scarves and other items of personal adornment from our collection.

Maasai Necklace

Maasai Necklace

Maasai Necklace

So we welcome the new with a beaded necklace from the Maasai of East Africa. This flat collar necklace would be worn by a Maasai woman who was either married or soon to be married. There are about 40 different types of Maasai beadwork, all designed by women. Traditionally, a mother would craft a necklace like this one for her daughter. The design is meant to accentuate a woman’s grace and beauty. Even the different colors have special meaning. Blue symbolizes God, as it is the color of the sky. Green beads stand for vegetation after rainfall, an important symbol of peace in Maasai culture. Come enjoy this and other beautiful examples of adornment this summer at Mariposa!

Silk Shoes

Chinese Silk Shoes

Chinese Silk Shoes

While these shoes look like they were made to fit a child, they would have belonged to an adult woman whose feet had been broken and bound. Foot binding was a painful tradition in China that began during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) and did not end entirely until the 1950s. Tiny “moon shaped” feet became an ideal of beauty in China and also symbolized elite social status since bound feet became a sign of women who were not required to do manual labor. However, the painful foot binding process caused infections and completely disabled many women. Still, women chose to bind their own feet, fearing that if they did not, they would not be able to marry into a good family.

Cradleboards

Iroquois Cradleboard

Iroquois Cradleboard

Cradleboards are used by many of the native peoples of the Americas. This intricately beaded example comes from the Iroquois nation. The Iroquois are actually an association made up of 6 distinct tribes. Initially covering a vast area west of the Hudson River and into the Finger Lakes region, the Iroquois now live primarily in upstate New York and Canada.

An Iroquois mother would use a cradleboard like this one to keep her baby safe and comfortable. The sturdy, straight frame of the cradleboard was said to ensure that the baby’s back would grow straight and strong. Mothers would wrap their infants in warm, soft layers of blankets, and then cushion them with soft mosses. Cradleboards are also very portable and could be worn on a mother’s back while she worked.

Buckskin Dress

Apache Buckskin Dress

Apache Buckskin Dress

A buckskin dress like this one would be worn by a young woman during the Sunrise Ceremony, a coming of age tradition among the Apache people of the southwestern United States. This particular example comes from the White Mountain Apache of Arizona. The term “Apache” actually encompasses several distinct tribes in this geographical area who speak variations of the Athabascan language.

The ritual of the Sunrise Ceremony varies from group to group, but there are many similarities between traditions. The Sunrise Ceremony recreates the Apache creation myth and connects each generation of women with White Painted Woman, the first mother. Family and community members come together to celebrate a young woman’s entrance into womanhood, and participate in prayers and dances for several nights. The young woman also practices her endurance by running to each of the cardinal directions, representing strength in each of the four stages of life. It is said that when she runs east toward the sun, she meets White Painted Woman, who merges with the young woman and is continually reborn in each generation of Apache women.

Brass Fingernails

Thai Brass Fingernails

Thai Brass Fingernails

These hammered brass fingernails would be worn by a dancer in the traditional Thai dance called Fawn Leb. This dance usually features 5 pairs of dancers. The long fingernails accentuate the classic, nuanced hand movements in Thai dance. Other parts of the costume and choreography may differ according to region, but in general, Fawn Leb is characterized by the use of the brass fingernails and the dancers’ movements which tend to be more fluid and robust than other Thai dances. Another variation of the Fawn dance is called Fawn Tian, in which the dancers accentuate their hand movements by holding small candles.

Geta

Japanese Geta

Japanese Geta

These shoes, made from one piece of wood, are an important part of traditional Japanese clothing. Their high heels that look like teeth were useful for lifting the hem of the kimono a little higher above the muddy streets of Edo. A Japanese superstition holds that it is very unlucky to break the strap of your geta!

Sashiko

Japanese Sashiko

Japanese Sashiko

Sashiko is a kind of decorative stitching originally used to repair and strengthen cotton garments in Japan. The white threads on a dark background became patterns for quilting warm outer and under garments for farmers and fishermen. Today sashiko has become a more decorative art practiced by men and women alike. If you don’t want to invent your own design, you can buy pre-chalked cotton and stitch along the lines!

Temari

Japanese Temari

Japanese Temari

Temari are toy balls traditionally made in Japan by winding threads from old kimonos into a ball shape. Mothers often make temari for their daughters as gifts for the New Year. Once used by girls for a game of catch, temari are now mostly decorative and feature intricate geometric patterns. Designs vary according to region and the individual maker. In order to make just one three-inch ball, the maker would need at least 300 yards of thread!