n De Arte - Mapula : embroidery and empowerment in the Winterveld, Brenda Schmahmann : book review

Volume 2007, Issue 75
  • ISSN : 0004-3389



In 1999, Brenda Schmahmann, the author of , began interviewing women members of the embroidery arts project known as Mapula in the Winterveld region of South Africa. The name, Mapula, which means "mother of rain" in xiTsonga, suggests not only rainfall and impending harvests but also women's association with the forces of fertility - of both land and people - and, as Schmahmann points out, with female agency more generally. Thus, the founding of the Mapula Embroidery Project in 1991 was intended to provide women from the Winterveld region with both economic resources and a sense of self-empowerment. Schmahmann's interest in the organisation of the project, in Mapula women's experiences, and in their use of textile arts to express their thoughts and feelings about a range of social and political issues, reflects her own concerns with gender, racial, and political inequality in South Africa.

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