New Exhibit Shows Jewelry Is Power

A New African Art Museum Exhibit Shows How Jewelry Is Power For Senegalese Women

Published in DCist on 10/23/18

Butterfly necklace
Butterfly necklace pendant on view in “Good as Gold” (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of African Art)

For the 20th century Senegalese women who wore gold jewelry from Wolof and Tukulor goldsmiths, it wasn’t just about donning beautiful works of art. The pieces also expressed culture, political affiliation, and economic status.

Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women, the new exhibition opening Wednesday at the National Museum of African Art, is the first major exhibition of Senegalese gold jewelry that focuses on the history of Senegal’s gold, and the complex ways that Senegalese women have used jewelry and fashion to present themselves.

“While most of the objects in the exhibition were made by men, the designs, styles, and names of such works are by women,” said guest curator Amanda Maples in a statement. “Good as Gold reveals the ways in which Senegalese women have historically used jewelry as a means of fashioning a cosmopolitan identity of power and prestige.”

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