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This heavy metal bracelet comes from India. Bracelets like this were traditionally worn by married women who were supposed to wear bracelets or bangles on their wrists at all times to signify that they were married. In this way they are similar to wedding rings in Western traditions.
Acquired by Sheila Unwin in the early 1970s for 10 shillings. A smith has incorporated twisted copper wire and twisted and hammered tin rods for this piece of jewellery. It’s an example of adornment made from industrially manufactured recycled material. Bracelets with a similar decoration, of coiled brass and steel wire, were also produced in South Africa in the late 19th century.
This is a prestigious token of membership associated with the Lemba, a successful mercantile elite who conducted trade directly with Europeans on the coast. The Lemba actively recruited the influential, the wealthy and the trustworthy to their ranks. Dennett acquired his collection through good relations, and possibly as a member of this elite. Membership would have enabled travel and interregional trade.