Solved: Using Embroidery as a Piece of Historical Evidence Discussion Essay        


Embroidery as a piece of evidence Write a page or so describing how you would use one of the southern African embroideries posted on the class website Module/Week 8 as a piece of historical evidence. What can you tell about the artist’s point of view from the piece’s design? What if any message is s/he […]

Using Embroidery as a Piece of Historical Evidence

As an ancient form of needlework, embroidery can be used to embellish textiles for informative purposes. Embroidery may add dimension, richness, texture, and color based on aesthetics and style. As such, women embroiderers in South Africa have depicted the country’s historical events on clothing through sewing and their skills. For instance, the 16th June 1976 students’ uprising is one of the most memorable cloth embroideries that portray a seminal event in the history of South Africa.

Figure 1: Embroidery of Students’ Uprising of 16th June 1976

Using Embroidery as a Piece of Historical Evidence

Using Embroidery as a Piece of Historical Evidence

Source: Sullivan (2014).

Figure one above shows a piece that has been translated from a photo image into embroidery. From the design of the embroidery, the artist’s point of view is to fully communicate the violence that transpired in Soweto and also to emphasize the memory of Hector Pieterson (a victim of the force) and Mbuyisa Makhubu (the young man carrying him). The artist has achieved this by presenting information beyond the photograph’s fame that initially shows Makhubu carrying Pieterson while his sister running next to them (Sullivan, 2014). For instance, a uniformed policeman holding a gun stands to the left, moving away from the scene. A critical piece that has been added is the blood that is pouring from the victim to the ground, which logically is symbolic of the suffering of the 20th-century African people.

The embroiderer is trying to convey the message of change by focusing on a critical event in the history of the fight for freedom, honoring the 1976 Soweto Uprising victims, primarily Pieterson, who instantly became a global symbol of youth resistance and apartheid oppression. Therefore, while the original picture strongly communicated the violence that transpired in Soweto, the emphasis of the embroidery is on the people who were present on that day (Sullivan, 2014). For an essay, the embroidery in question would be used as evidence of a photo that galvanized the world against apartheid. A suitable title, in this regard, would be as follows: “Soweto uprising: towards a people’s history.


Sullivan, E. E. (2014). Review of Bearing Witness: Embroidering History in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies38(1), 296 – 299.

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Published On: 01-01-1970

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