Ten Thousand Things Egyptian Ankh Charm Necklace from The Met Museum


Presenting a contemporary interpretation of the ankh, an ancient Egyptian symbol and hieroglyph for “life,” “live,” and “alive,” this charm on black leather cord is made of hand painted recycled glass powder beads from Ghana. It was handcrafted in New York City as part of Ten Thousand Things, a collection of fine jewelry designed by Ron Anderson and David Rees in collaboration with The Met. With guidance from the curators of Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room, Anderson and Rees immersed themselves in the history of Seneca Village-an ill-fated 19th-century settlement of mostly African American property owners in Manhattan-and in the work of musician and filmmaker Sun Ra, a pioneer of the Afrofuturist philosophy and aesthetic. Sun Ra called for “only good vibrations in the new world,” which became the foundation of these ecstatic designs conveying happiness, optimism, and beauty. Ten Thousand Things interprets Met artworks and artifacts through the lens of Afrofuturism, and imagines what a Seneca Village resident would wear in the year 2021. Furnished with objects in The Met collection, from Bamileke beadwork and 19th-century American ceramics to contemporary art and design that celebrates rich and diverse traditions, Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room presents a speculative home for the residents of Seneca Village. This predominantly Black settlement flourished just a few hundred yards from the Museum’s current site before it was destroyed by the City of New York in 1857 to make space for Central Park. Acknowledging that injustice, the exhibition asks: What if this community had the opportunity to thrive?

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