For those going “Oh… huh?”, the collection stems from golden artefacts found of the Mapungubwe kingdom, which had become a renowned gold and general trading center circa 1200. Comparatively little remains of the sheer volume of golden jewellery, ornaments and both gold and glass beads that must have changed hands on a daily basis. That which UP has in its possession were unearthed from a burial mound in Limpopo province during the 1930s. Today, they stand as a remarkable testament to the wealth and artistry of the former Mapungubwe kingdom.
Several hundred gold anklets, bracelets, figurines, and several thousand beads were collected from the site. Probably the star of the collection remains the golden rhino – an icon of the Mapungubwe Collection. Made from wood that is covered in gold sheets and held together with gold nails, the rhino heads up a collection of gold figurines that include buffalo-like figures, a cat-like statue, bowls and a golden sceptre.
New House For Mapungubwe Collection
Housing one of the most impressive archaeological finds made in Southern Africa, “the doors of Javett-UP are open to the arts. And to you.” Curating staff are justifiably chuffed with the nature and new, improved housing of the collection. The building work was completed around three months ago, and the new venue shows the Mapungubwe Collection in a new light – all puns intended.
Pop in on a rainy day or – better yet – make a purposeful trip to acquaint yourself with the austere nature of African history unearthed on the continent. The Mapungubwe Collection is literally a shining example of a rich diversity of artefacts often undersung on the local scene. In the words of Christopher Till, a founding director of the Javett Art Center on campus, “This is a place where people can learn about how Africa’s artists express the myriad, complex narratives of the continent and contribute to conversations about the continent’s past, present and future.”
The jooshed up Art Center has just recently opened, late September, and behind the scenes curators have been slaving to display an amazing collection in a glamorous, befitting fashion. They’ve also assembled an amazing overall collection for the venue, sourced from corporate and other private collections, to really hit the sweet spot on archeological displays. Till has said, “We’re excited” and quite frankly, all Pretorians should be likewise enthused. The Mapungubwe Collection is of particular significance, but the new center is also a world class display venue in its own right.
Culture By The Spadeful
The Javett Art Center opened exhibiting several collections. The Mapungubwe Collection, named National Treasures, is the most impressive. This collection also includes some 350 West African artefacts from AngloGold Ashanti. There’s 101 – Collecting Conversations – Signature works of a Century, which is an assembly of 101 signature South African artworks. And there’s also All in a Day’s Eye: The Politics of Innocence in the Javett Collection, which is guest curated by the talented Gabi Ngcobo. There’s also A Strange Thing Materialised Along the Way, which is an assembly of weird and wonderful items sourced and put together from UP’s museums.
Art, in Till’s opinion, is neither stuffy nor elitist, but rather should be displayed and appreciated by all who constitute modern society. “Art is for everybody. It tells the story of where we come from and why we find ourselves right here, right now. The Javett-UP is, and will always be, a home for the art of Africa,” Till recently said. “In the best tradition of warm and welcoming African hospitality, the doors are wide open so all people can come and learn more about this continent, its triumphs, tragedies and its deeply layered, but fascinating, complexity as expressed through African artists, both ancient and modern.”