Anyieth was born into the Dinka tribe in what is now South Sudan, and although she graduated law school in London and married an American colleague, she chose to return to South Sudan to bring aid, and later work, to the women there. When it came time for her wedding (after months of the groom's Seattle family learning to navigate the customary exchange of cows and other gifts), her mother wished aloud that Anyieth could wear the traditional Dinka corset—an elaborate beaded piece that lets the world know who you are. But there were no Dinka corsets to be found.
So exquisite is this ring of beads that circles the torso and curtains the back, that Anyieth recruited Mary to make new, modern iterations of the corset—a revival so successful, Mary's daughter, Yar, is now learning this complex skill. Above they make Ibu corsets together, a part of Anyieth's beading cooperative for women from 22 different tribes, building commerce from their beading skills and peace among communities historically in conflict.
To bead is to pray, or so suggests the history of the word. Each bead in a rosary is a prayer, so also each bead in a creation this complex is a prayer at work; a prayer of hands, of imagination, of hope.
Ibu offers beadwork from diverse countries, and while each piece comes out of a very different language group, they speak the same prayer—that, one day, we may all belong to one another.
We are many, and we are One, I think as I slip on beads from many nations. Linking one tiny bead to the next to the next to the next, these women's hands are threading not just corsets, but, across impossible barriers, connection. Community. Respect. Peace.
That’s a prayer I want to wear in every in every language.
All the best,