Jewellery

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The Bushmen and Khoekhoen made a variety of decorative artefacts, or jewellery. All three of the jewellery items above were found in the Knersvlakte of southern Namaqualand.

Ostrich eggshell beads are certainly the most common, but one rarely finds examples of how they were used. The bead above was obviously stitched onto something as evidenced by the loop of string onto which it is attached. but other material such as seeds, shells and metal were also used.

The shell pendent shown, in the centre above, is made from alikreukel shell. It is 25 mm long and likely only a few hundred years old. This shell had to have been collected at least 200 km to the south and was thus transported, either as a shell or as a finished pendent, over a long distance. Another fragment, unworked but with smoothed edges indicating much handling, was found in the same site suggesting perhaps that pieces of shell were carried around to be worked when time allowed.

In western South Africa shell jewellery was also made on cone shells, tick shells and cowries. Above is a set of three tick shells strung together and held in place by ochre.  On the south coast a far wider variety of marine shell artefacts was made in terms of both the species employed and the styles fashioned.