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Adorning ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’


In “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” jewelry plays a crucial role, and it is not just those all-powerful Kimoyo beads.

Jewelry ties the sequel, released earlier this month, to the first “Black Panther” film. “We see King T’Challa’s ring that Shuri wears around her neck,” Ruth E. Carter, the film’s costume and jewelry designer, said in a video interview, referring to T’Challa’s sister, played by Letitia Wright. “She wears it during the funeral procession. It’s a symbolic passing of the torch.”

(Marvel decided not to recast T’Challa after Chadwick Boseman, who played him in the first film, died of colon cancer in 2020.)

And adorning the sequel’s cast gave Ms. Carter and her team the opportunity to expand the African motifs they had mined for Wakanda, the fictional country cinematically shown in the 2018 “Black Panther” film — and to be inspired by Mayan culture in styling the Talocan tribe. It is an underwater civilization that attacks Wakanda, the main story line of the second movie.

“The Wakandans connect to traditional African tribes, and the Talocans connect to Mesoamerica and the ocean,” Ms. Carter said. “With the Mayan influence, we connected the aboveground world with what they would have used from the ocean.” She said the designs for the Talocans include materials like bone, jade, rope and kelp.

Perhaps the most prominent jewelry-clad character in the new “Black Panther” story is Namor, the leader of the Talocans, played by the Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta Mejía.

“Namor is adorned with a large necklace that has a two-headed serpent with a large pearl in the mouth and a double strand of pearls,” Ms. Carter said. “That has a lot of meaning. A serpent was often used in Mesoamerican stonework and pottery.”

Other new characters who are richly adorned include the Talocan warrior Attuma, who wears a headpiece depicting a hammerhead shark, while Namor’s female cousin Namora has a neckpiece made in the shape of lionfish fins.

Ms. Carter, the first Black designer to win an Oscar for best costume design for her work on “Black Panther,” also focused on varying the jewelry among the recurring characters.

“Queen Ramonda wears two different corsets, one of which is inspired by the Dogon tribe of Mali and goes from the base of the neck to the bust,” Ms. Carter said, referring to Angela Bassett’s character, who leads Wakanda after the death of her son T’Challa.

“The second is made to look like as if it is her armor,” she said. “It’s very strong and heavy imagery, but appropriate for the queen and her ruling of Wakanda.”

M’Baku, the leader of the Jabari tribe in Wakanda, played by Winston Duke, has a necklace made of tiny spears. And an elder of the River Tribe reprises the turquoise-colored lip plate that he wore in the first movie.

Two artists who do a lot of handicraft assisted Ms. Carter with the jewelry for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”: Douriean Fletcher, a Los…



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