Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Last week I was busy making chainmaille bracelets, and when I was tired of that I turned to amethyst and citrine. I still need to improve in photography, but here are the results:

I have always wanted to do something 3dimensional in wire wrapping and my brain just throws ideas and pictures  at me willy-nilly, but I never "saw" what could be done. Also I hardly ever sketch, unless I have a very concrete idea in my head. But after seeing the work of Huan Pham, which I showed in my last post, I decided to try my hand. And to my surprise the result was quite pleasing. Of course I cannot and will not copy outright, and how could I, since no details were given. So I just came up with this: 19g and 30g champagne wire encasing a marble.

Now the marbles are an issue because they belong (or belonged) to my daughters when they were little and now they all want one like this as a keepsake, forbidding me to use any for any other purpose whatsoever!!!

Seems I have to find my own marbles or other undrilled objects which are suitable, if I want to continue with this design.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Yesterday I  saw unbelievable eye candy! Through one of the forums I belong to I found the blog of an extremely talented wire jewellery artist. When I saw his work my jaw dropped, my eyes bulged and all my skin was tingling. Believe me, I have seen outstanding work before (not that I can do any of it yet) but this guy is by himself "one of a kind". If you are interested here is his blog: http://huanpham.blogspot.com
I will try and show you some of what he does, just to entice you.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The big day has finally arrived. Everyone is up early to get prepared and help prepare. If the event is held in ones garden tents for the guests will be set up, facing each other with a good clearance in the middle. A smaller tent for bride and groom will be placed at right angles to the others to one side of the centre space. Chairs will be placed in straight rows facing the centre where a table will be placed to hold the dowry. A smaller table is put beside it for the celebration cake.

In one suitable corner the DJ will arrange his equipment. The decorator is busy and her helpers assist in blowing up balloons. Everything has to match the colour scheme of the day, which was chosen way back by both bride and groom.

To really treat guests well, the cooking will be done at home by women hired for the occasion. They will cook all night long in the backyard with firewood and missionary pots. The food will be outstanding, better than what one can get from catering companies. A long row of tables will be set up with tablecloths, plates, cutlery, napkins, drinking glasses, straws etc. As it is the serving station it will be kept out of view from the guests. People hired to do the serving are in charge of it as well as giant cooling drums holding drinks and water.

Meanwhile inside the house the bride will have a leisurely bath, lay out her finery and relax. By this time her friends should have arrived to keep her company. There will be much hilarity as will happen when girls meet who might not have seen each other for a while. They will all dress up in the bride’s room, since they came in their ordinary clothes.

Manicure and pedicure would have been done the day before as well as the hair. Now the make-up artist arrives and transforms the bride into a real beauty. She will also assist with the dressing, especially the intricate tying of the gele (headtie). For an additional fee she will also tie it for any other female who needs this service. All this will take a few hours.

Family members and friends will start arriving about an hour before the time set. They will mingle and chat, enjoy the music. Then it is time to sit down because the groom’s family is arriving. And they arrive in style! All of them together accompanied by drummers and the alaga. Now the alaga of the girl’s family takes over. After much ceremony they will be ushered in and seated in the opposite tent. Those carrying the dowry will place the items on or in front of the table. Again the visiting family will be asked the purpose of their mission by the alaga. Thealaga from that family will respond. In fact they are now the MCs. Introductions are made all over again and then it is time for the groom to arrive with his supporters. Mats are spread in front of the girl’s parents are spread out because the groom and his men are all expected to prostrate themselves flat on the ground as a mark of respect and to receive the blessings of parents and elders after which he takes his seat in the bridal tent.

Now the bride will be brought out, her head and face covered by a cloth, escorted by the youngest married woman in her family and her friends. She will be taken to the groom’s parents, sit on their laps in turn to receive their blessing. Then she will be taken to the dowry table where she is expected to pick out the bible/Koran and the ring. With these items she will be led to the groom and officially handed over. The groom will lift the cloth from her face and head and confirm that she is his wife to be. The bride will then give him the box with the ring which he will then place on her finger.

In days gone by that concluded the wedding ceremony, but has been changed to engagement now. They will cut the cake together and feed each other with a piece of it. Toasts will be made, food will be served, music will play and dancing commences. By early evening everyone is getting tired and goes home. Next day or the following week the legal wedding will take place after which the bride is finally carried to her husband’s house. And hopefully they will live happily ever after!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

The day of the engagement is now fast approaching. Final checks are made to ensure no detail was forgotten. If one did not have a videographer at the previous events, now is the time to hire one. Invitations have to be sent out and those well connected will also invite the media including television. The weaving of the aso-oke should be completed by now and has to be taken to a tailor for sewing.


A very important part in finalizing the union is the dowry the groom’s family has to pay. In most cases nowadays money is only a token amount. But the other items can come to quite a tidy sum. The dowry will be presented on the engagement day:

50 tubers of yam (each almost 2 feet long)

50 pieces of dried smoked fish

50 pieces of kola nut

50 pieces of bitter kola nut

50 pieces alligator pepper

1 bag of salt

1 carton of cube sugar

1 bottle pure honey

2 crates each of mineral and malt drinks

1 live goat

1 basket of assorted fruit

4 gallons groundnut oil

A bowl of adun (palmoil mixed with ground corn, chili pepper and salt)

1 50kg bag of rice

1 suitcase of native clothes, shoes and bag to match

A bible or Koran and engagement ring

Envelopes of money for the mother, the father, the children in the house, the women in the larger family.


The money for the children and women will be shared equally, mother and father each keep their own. The suitcase, bible/Koran and ring are for the bride. All other items belong to the parents who will share among the larger family according to seniority. Some will also be given to the bride after she has settled in her new home.


I will keep the last and best part for next time.


Happy Valentine’s day!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Before I embark on the last part of this saga I want to show some of the pictures, i.e. the various baskets and an example of the all important letter. Relish!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Yes, letter writing is serious business. The person entrusted with this task must be able to produce a well written document using the best calligraphy. Of course with computers it is much easier, but people who demand quality still insist on a handwritten letter.


What is this letter all about you ask? Actually there will be two. The first one is from the groom’s family to the bride’s family. It is the official proposal of marriage stating all the details like full names, date of birth, place of origin etc. of the groom as well as the details of the girl, signed by the head of the groom’s family. The second letter is the official acceptance of the proposal by the bride’s family, equally detailed. These letters are a work of art in themselves. Usually large, at least an A4 size, they can take different outlooks, such as a scroll on parchment or a big fold open card with the letter affixed inside. Whatever style is chosen, in each case they are highly ornamental. But this is not all! Each letter will be encased in some way to make it more presentable. That could be a wrought iron carriage or a beautiful silk flower arrangement, the options are endless.


Next a date is arranged to receive the proposal letter. This entails a larger contingent from the groom’s family, together with their alaga. And they do not come empty handed. Baskets with fruit, wine or other drinks and biscuits, sweets and chocolates are presented. After snacks and refreshments are offered and taken, the letter of proposal is read out and handed over to the head of the girl’s family who will tell the visitors that a reply will be sent to them in due course.


When a date for the reply has been fixed the girl’s family will pay a return visit to the groom’s family equally with their alaga and the obligatory baskets of fruit etc. The procedure is much the same as the previous one.


Generally, these two occasions are much fun. But in all of this neither bride nor groom are present. Once I asked why this was so and I was told that it does not concern them! That the marriage was for the families and not just the two individuals involved!


After the letter carrying to and fro has been accomplished another date is fixed for a final meeting between the families before the big day. This is called “Introduction” and takes place in the girl’s family home. An agreement is reached on how many members of each family should be present, often not more than twenty, making a total of forty, but usually this number is exceeded because nobody wants to feel left out.


Preparations for this event start early in the morning. Seating has to be arranged, food has to be cooked and drinks chilled. Finally members of the household need to get dressed up in time to receive first their own family members and then those of the groom’s family.


When the groom’s family arrives, several female members of the girl’s family will go out to meet them to find out the purpose of their visit. They have to state their case but cannot enter yet. A wrapper is spread before them on the ground which they may not cross until some money has been placed on it. All is done in good humour because it is the tradition. After finally being allowed to enter, everyone is made welcome and seated according to seniority and importance. Drinks are served to start with, small chitchat is made for a while and then the visiting family start to introduce themselves, again in order of seniority. Then the girl’s family will do the same. Generally by this time everyone is much at ease, especially if the visitors brought along traditional drummers to liven up the occasion. Food is served and now the conversation becomes lively and a good time is had by all. Eventually the guests must go, but the extended family members of the girl stay on a bit to discuss a little more before finally taking their own leave.


What a long day! Now its back to the chores; tidying up, put furniture back in the proper place and get out of the finery, not necessarily in that order.


I forgot to mention that this visit too is accompanied by more baskets of fruit and what have you. As you can see the toing and froing is much. In the last few years the letter carrying, the reply and the introduction have been done in one go to save time and money, which is a good idea because life in the city is pretty stressful and hectic. So instead of three separate events only one is held. But to compensate this one event usually becomes a bit more lavish as to the hospitality offered as well as the gifts being brought. The main intent is for everyone to have an enjoyable time!


Now the big day is approaching and I will tell you all about it next time.

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

What a surprise! I am a sunflower according to the quiz.

Saturday, 7 February 2009


Continuing the saga of Yoruba engagements/weddings. Before I dive into the next chapter I want to explain why I always say:"engagements/weddings". In days gone by it was the accepted way to get married according to the traditions of the Yoruba people. That was prior to registry or church wedding. Now this event and all which leads up to it is regarded as the official engagement. But as an engagement it is slightly nonsensical, as it is usually held the day before the "real" wedding, at most a week before. No matter, traditions like this should be kept for the sheer joy of the occasion.


The first hurdle has been jumped. Now the girl's father is informed, who in turn will inform the head of the extended family, who is the most senior male. Then a date for the wedding will be considered and eventually agreed upon by all. Now the girl's family too will hire an alaga to represent them in the meetings ahead.


Next of course there will be discussions on what to wear, what colours should be chosen. The traditional dress for women consists of iro and buba, gele and iborun. That is a full length wrapper, blouse, headtie and an additional length of fabric to be worn around the waist. The first two items are usually made out of Swiss lace, the others could be brocade or damask. But more and more people choose aso-oke, which is a traditional handwoven fabric made on a narrow loom. Because the demand is high for wider fabrics a lot of weavers are now using wide looms in addition. 


Having decided on the colours a reputable weaver has to be found. Apart from colour the pattern and the yarn has to be chosen. Now the weaver will produce a sample which when satisfactory will be ordered in full. And that will be lots! It is expected that each female member of the extended family will want at least one of the items and the men use the narrow fabric to make their caps. The wearing of the same headtie / cap is known as aso-ebi. Thus on big occasions everyone immediately knows who belongs to which family! 


Shopping is now very high on the agenda. The lace has to be found for dad and mom. The girl's outfit will be provided by the groom's parents, because they too have to wear the same fabric to denote their impending unity. Next are shoes and bag to match - very high priority!


Venues will be scoured if the bride's home cannot accomodate the guests (often in excess of 200). Caterers and decorators must be found as well as a printer for the invitations and programmes! A professional letter writer has to be sourced because this person is of vital importance!

More next time.

Friday, 6 February 2009

As I said, time is against me. So the picture of the finished set did not show up. I am very sorry, but right now I will try again. All other posting will be left for the weekend when I have more time!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Time and Internet are conspiring against me. When I have finished reading my emails and replying to them, very little time is left for posting anything!

But I did manage to take some pics of the bridal jewellery just completed. The continuing story of Yoruba engagement/wedding traditions will follow shortly, I promise!

Here is the picture of the jewellery for the traditional engagement/wedding of our bride.

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