Research articles

Religious imaginations in embroidered craft art

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 33, issue 1, 2013 , pages: 11–18
DOI: 10.2989/02572117.2013.793934
Author(s): Annekie JoubertInstitut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, Germany


This article focuses on ‘religious spaces’ that embroidered craft art denotes in a rural Northern Sotho community in South Africa, and the way in which spirituality is imagined through this form of art. Some background information on the craft artists of the Mogalakwena Craft Art Development Foundation (MCADF) in South Africa and the embroideries produced by them is given in the introduction. Examples of embroidered panels with religious and embedded cultural motives are then discussed. The focus of the discussion in the second part will be on (i) the influence of Christianity through Christian missions on indigenous African societies; (ii) the development of African Independent Churches in South Africa with special reference to the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) and (iii) an analysis of examples of the embroideries in order to understand the complex fusion of African religion and Christianity. This article finally suggests that the craft art embroideries of the Mogalakwena craft artists reflect a spirituality that is ‘poised in transition’, a spirituality that is ‘linking backwards and forwards at the same time’ allowing ‘modernity to be represented in older cultural forms, while cloaking older forms of tradition in newer guises’ (Venter, 2004:9).

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