DMA Insight

Dozier Trade Beads

The following excerpt is from the essay "African Art at the DMA: a Brief History," by __Roslyn A. Walker, The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art.

The 1990s began with an extraordinary gift of approximately one thousand loose and strung African trade beads from the Dozier Foundation. The Dallas Museum of Art became the repository of one of the the largest public collections of such objects. The donation was inspired by comments that the art historian Susan Mullin Vogel made to Velma Davis Dozier during a visit in 1988. Vogel, one of several renowned African art specialists called upon to help guide the African art collection, suggested enlivening the African gallery with colorful African trade beads. Assistant curator Carol Robbins knew that Velma Dozier had amassed an outstanding collection of beads, and her husband Otis had bought masks and figures from itinerant African art dealers. In addition to displaying a wide variety of colors, textures, and shapes, trade beads reflect Africa's contact with the outside world (Asia and Europe). Beads adorned both sculpture and human beings. In some societies, they signified an affiliation with a particular religious practice, but because of their value as imported objects, they generally indicated individual or group prestige and prosperity.

Excerpt from

  • Roslyn A. Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 20-21.

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