Wild Harvest

Irma Stern Museum | Cape Town | 2018

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Abrus precatorius subs. africanus, more commonly known as the lucky bean creeper or prayer beads, is a common plant in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.  

 

Although the leaves are consumed as a vegetable in central and east Africa, the shiny red and black seeds are poisonous to humans and animals. Despite this danger, the beads are often used in necklaces and rosaries (precatorius refers to petitioning).

 

I was very intrigued by the uses and symbolic references of this plant and decided to highlight the spiritual and personal appropriation of this delicate and intricate plant. The circular composition, which is created with two opposing pods, mimics the Chinese yin yang and hints at Abrus precatorius's contradictory nature as being both deadly and precious or sacred. 

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© Willie Schlechter 2019

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