Posts tagged ‘San’

Fair Trade Ostrich Egg jewelry from the San Bushmen Women of the Kalahari

We just got our first shipment of Ostrich Egg jewelry, made by the San Bushmen Women of the Kalahari.

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Ostrich eggshell beads are considered the first beads humans ever made, dating back over 50,000 years, with the San Bushmen women being the last people to make these beads as part of their tradition.

How the ostrich eggshell beads are made:

Photo courtesy of Women's Work and Kuru Family of Organizations

Photo courtesy of Women's Work and Kuru Family of Organizations

1.) The first step is to break the ostrich eggshells into chips.

2.) Then each chip is made round by a springbok horn or nail clippers-whichever is readily available.

3.) Next, a hole is started in each chip with a hand-drill then punched through with a small awl.
4.) Next the drilled chips are strung and laid across a wooden board. 5.) Using a whetstone, the chips are hand polished. The strings are wet, rubbed, then, wet some more. Through this tedious and strenuous task the rough chips are transformed into lovely luminous beads.

We sourced this beautiful jewelry from Celicia at Women’s Work, a fellow member of the Fair Trade Federation. Like many other products that we have managed to find over the past two years, this jewelry is great example of finding a market for a local tradition, using local (and sustainable) materials and giving a real sense of empowerment to the people of the region.

The purchase of these beads helps to preserve the San culture, bringing much-needed income to women deep in the heart of the Kalahari in Botswana.

We’ll be retailing these ‘pearls of the Kalahari’ at Global Fayre in downtown Springfield, and they will also be available shortly through our online store.

June 9, 2009 at 14:03 18 comments


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