After bayeux: The Keiskamma Tapestry and the making of South African history

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Made by isiXhosa-speaking of Twentieth-century Art Forms.women belonging to theNew York and London: Methuen,Keiskamma Art Project in the village of Hamburg, South Africa, the Keiskamma Tapestry was completed midway through 2004 and has been on display at the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town since 2006. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, the work takes as its subject matter the history of the Eastern Cape Province where Hamburg is located, including the series of conflicts known as the Frontier Wars (1779-1878), which affected South Africa and its future as fundamentally as the Norman invasion affected England. Linda Hutcheon suggests that parody is a form of repetition "which marks difference rather than similarity" (Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Parody: the Teachings 1985, p. 6). In other words, pointsof similarity between two works highlight the distinctions between them and it is these distinctions, more than their points of likeness, which are ultimately often most meaningful. The Keiskamma Tapestry is explored in light of this insight, and it is suggested that its various parallels with the Bayeux Tapestry emphasize that the frames of reference of its makers are South African rather than European. Indeed, paradoxically, their engagement with what is undoubtedly the most well-known example of needlework in Europe facilitated the makers of the Keiskamma Tapestry exploring their own specifically South African context and identities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-193
Number of pages36
JournalTextile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayeux Tapestry
  • Eastern Cape
  • Embroidery
  • Frontier Wars
  • Keiskamma Art Project
  • Keiskamma Tapestry
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'After bayeux: The Keiskamma Tapestry and the making of South African history'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this