Inspired by African history, MANJA has taken a traditional symbol of freedom from Madagascan heritage and created a unisex collection that is imbued with a poignant sense of historical significance. The design of each piece is based on the emotive Malagasy Vango Vango bracelet, connecting us to the past and markedly reminding us of our own liberty in the modern world.
The Vango Vango was originally a closed metal cuff worn by slaves and used to enchain them during the night. When the slaves were set free, many retained the cuff, cutting and styling it to form an open bangle to wear in remembrance of their emancipation. Its origin is attributed to the Sakalava tribe of southern Madagascar and it is still worn today across much of the country. Now viewed as a sacred talisman to protect the wearer, the coastal Vezo tribe of southern Madagascar will not allow their fishermen to go to sea without one.
The Vango Vango bracelet has evolved to become an important cultural symbol for the Malagasy people and it is usually the first item of jewellery that a person owns. Worn by men, women and children alike, they are designed in many different forms using a variety of stones, materials and etching techniques. MANJA has reinvented this historical item of jewellery for the Freedom collection, bringing the fire and spirit of the liberated slaves to London.
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