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WSU Beadwork Collection

21 February 2014, 11:06

THE Joan Broster Beadwork Collection at Walter Sisulu University which dates back to 1932 and features beadwork associated with the AbaThembu people, will be recognised by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) as a significant feature of the national heritage.

Sahra made the proposed declaration public after years of engaging with the university. The beadwork was collected between 1952 and 1966 by the late Broster who later sold it to Unitra. Today WSU is the proud owner of about 3 000 traditional objects.

Sahra's Regina Isaacs said the collection was of national significance and a specific declaration by the agency meant the status of the collection would be enhanced.

"The Broster Beadwork Collection serves as research material owned by WSU. There was interaction with the Engcobo community and others who contributed to the collection. It is up to WSU to build on this relationship and to use the declaration for the benefit of WSU."

The collected objects include traditional clothing and accessories. Isaacs said a service provider had been appointed and was in the process of developing a conservation management plan that would stipulate how the collection would be looked after to ensure it was accessible to current and future generations.

Being declared by Sahra will mean that: No person may destroy, damage, disfigure or alter any heritage object, or disperse any collection without a permit; No person may carry out any work of restoration or repair on an object, without a permit; No person may export or attempt to export from South Africa any object without a permit; On application by the owner or custodian of an object or collection, Sahra may at its discretion assist in funding any restoration or repair work undertaken by an approved conservator.

WSU spokeswoman Angela Church said: "WSU is proud to be the custodian of the significant, rare Joan Broster Beadwork Collection. As a university which embraces indigenous knowledge systems, and focuses its research on this theme, it is fitting that WSU should ensure the preservation of this cultural gem."

People have been encouraged to comment or send their queries about the proposed declaration within 60 days by e-mail to hweldon@sahra.org.za or fax (021) 462-4509.

PREPARED BY: The Daily Dispatch

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