A Family Collection of Souvenirs

A Family Collection of Souvenirs

You can tell what our family interests are by the souvenirs we pick up.  We are, however, not consistent in anything we buy so we have not accumulated a mass collection of objects.

Here are some of our recent souvenir purchases:

My Husband’s Travel Souvenirs

My son and husband like to collect refrigerator magnets and keychains.  Yes, they are THOSE people – the ones that keep the tacky souvenir places in business.  Here we have magnets of Ampelmen crossing lights from Berlin, a shopping bag from Vienna and a leopard photo from South Africa.

I let this tat into our house but I make my son put it on a magnet board in his room.  My kitchen has no magnetic surface – clever no?

fridge magnets

My Daughter’s Travel Souvenirs

My daughter likes anything pretty for example this pink rhinestone heart belt she got in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  If you are going to wear pink rhinestone hearts, I’d say the age of eight is the time to do it.

pink rhinestone heart belt

In Jackson Hole, Wyoming she found this pretty banner with lots of little inspirational words on it.  So her.  I can see her floating into her future on a fluffy pink cloud pulled by unicorns with Taylor Swift music streaming from a rainbow overhead.

courage dream banner

She’s also pretty crafty so I’m trying to get her to make travel journals full of her thoughts and drawings and little bits and pieces she picks up. I think travel journals will be a better long-term souvenir when she is older and can look back on her vacations. We also have a vinyl cutter machine that we can use to create our very own travel-themed stickers and die-cuts. We’ve had fun creating travel journals together (even during a vacation such as during our Beaches escape in Jamaica) and reminiscing about our trip.

My Son’s Travel Souvenirs

Under my editing hand, on our last trip to New York City, my son brought home this limited edition set of the Guggenheim Museum created by Lego.

Guggenheim collector edition

I don’t necessarily collect souvenirs as much as things that I like that I won’t find at home.  Usually, these things are home accessories. In New York City, my daughter and I like the Museum of Modern Art gift shop to buy some cool design accessory to bring back.

We found these cool Catalan casteller blocks in Barcelona. Castellers continue a long-standing tradition in Catalonia where people work together to create enormous human towers.  The blocks are fun way to recreate the towers.  They are actually harder to create than it looks!

Catalan Casteller Blocks souvenir

My Travel Souvenir Finds

I found these lassi cups being sold by a roadside vendor in India.  I’ve seen similar ones being sold by design stores here for 5x the price I paid.  I love a bargain!

lassi cups from India

You can see ostrich eggs sold everywhere in South Africa as a souvenir.  I finally relented to pester power and we agreed on this ostrich egg which I thought was one of the more tasteful designs.  I also got this wirework vase made by women in townships to earn money.

We always have spare change lying around the house courtesy of my husband who doesn’t have anything as unmanly as a coin purse.  I love this little box for collecting coins that I found on a recent trip to Minneapolis for a friends’ wedding.  It’s made by an Australian company called Typo that I’ve never heard of which has the coolest things.

travel savings piggy bank

I totally agree … When in doubt, vacation!

I hope you enjoyed this look at some of our souvenirs.  Do you collect anything specific or are you magpies like us?

This  post is part of the monthly travel link up hosted by Kelly Michelle at Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes, Rebecca at Runaway Kiwi, Emma at Adventures of a London Kiwi and Jaime at Angloyankophile.




Artisanal Beadwork from the Ndebele Tribe

Artisanal Beadwork from the Ndebele Tribe

I saw intricately beaded dolls in many of the arts & crafts stores in South Africa and found out that they were created by the Ndebele tribe.  The Ndebele, a small tribe in the Northeastern part of South Africa, are known for their distinctive beadwork and their colourful houses.

ndebele dolls

Beadwork is used as decoration for their clothes. Women can show off their skill at beadwork through the intricacy of their patterns.  Beads were introduced to the Ndebele by European traders in the late 19th century.

ndebele dolls

Ndebale dolls, made from wire with beaded clothes, are used in certain rituals of the tribe. They come in different sizes.  There are four main types of dolls:

  • The Sangoma doll is considered a protector and a communicator with the spirits.
  • The Ceremonial doll who is given by a young man to the woman he wants to marry. These dolls are made by the mother of the prospective groom. He lays it outside the house of his intended and if she takes the doll inside, she accepts his proposal.
  • The Initiation doll which represents the style of a married woman. with their aprons. The aprons are intricate and tell such details as how many children the woman has.
  • The Linga Koba doll has two long rows of beads representing the tears of a mother whose son is undergoing the traditional ceremony which recognises them as men. She has tears of sadness for losing a boy and tears of sadness for gaining a man.

Ndebele dolls are now not only important culturally for the tribe but exported as a much-needed source of income.

ndebele dolls

Interestingly, although the dolls are all female, the society is patriarchical.  Women create these dolls as a way to make money when there are few other money-making opportunities available for them.

Ndebele woman

Steve Evans

During the mid-twentieth century, when the Ndebele moved from grass huts to more permanent structures, they started painting their homes. The patterns are colourful and evidence a strict geometric form. Many of the designs used for the walls come from their long tradition of beadwork.

ndebele house

image credit: Jerome Bon

I, of course, couldn’t resist buying several of the dolls which are now proudly sitting in my living room.  You can buy them online as well through several websites such as this one.


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