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Home Forums African Fashion What is the Traditional Attire of the Zulu Tribe?

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    Jess Brendan

      South Africa has a mix of different cultures and this makes their attire different too in some varied senses. As with other tribes, status and social circle do reflect in the attire one wears, and this is applicable too to the South African people.



      South Africa consists of the Xhosa tribe which also has their distinct culture and attires which features beautiful bead works and carefully printed fabrics. Usually, the form of attire worn by women demonstrates their stages of life.




      They wear skirts and aprons in beautifully printed fabrics or fabrics with beautiful embroidery. Ithumbu (necklace) is worn around the neck and matched with beaded bracelets and anklets. While the single ladies have short hair on display, the married women use scarfs known as iqhiya.



      Majorly, the men of Xhosa are dressed like traditional warriors, wearing warrior costumes adorned with animal skin. Importantly, leopard skin is exclusive to the royals alone.



      In the Zulu culture, the engaged women folks adorn themselves with aprons that cover their breasts and are allowed to grow their hair. They also wear broad beaded necklaces around their necks. An unmarried woman cuts their hair short and doesn’t have their breasts covered. They wear short grass reed skirts decorated with colorful beads.



      The Zulu men wear animal skins and feathers and based on their belief that the Leopard is the king of the predators, leopard skin is reserved only for royalties. Isinene, a front apron, and ibheshu a rear apron are worn to cover the buttocks and genitals. Amashoba is the tufts of a cow’s tail worn on the upper arms and below the knees, accompanied by headbands worn by married men and not necessary for single men.



      The dressing of the Zulu tribe is similar to other tribes within the South African ethnic groups.



      The Ndebele tribe is renowned for its beadworks of bright and colorful home paintings in geometric shapes and designs. This is similar to the Zulu tribe.



      Their cultural attire is also similar in adorning and follows almost the same pattern except for the variation in beaded hoops worn around their necks, arms, legs, and waist for the women folks.



      While the men folks also adorn themselves in animal skin aprons and beaded breastplates called iporiyana around the neck. The necklace is a symbol of approached manhood and is usually given by fathers to their young men after their initiations to manhood.



      The attire of the Zulu tribe is also similar to that of the Venda tribe where the girls wear shedo, an apron that barely covers the pubic area. They wear a nwenda around their waists or one shoulder. The nwenda is made from brightly colored strips of fabric accompanied by beaded necklaces, bangles, and headbands.



      The Venda men and boys wear tsindi, a loin cloth which is triangular-shaped animal skin used in covering the genital area passed between both legs and knotted at the back. The Tsonga Tribe also has a similarity in traditional attire to the Zulu tribe, as they are the offshoot of the Zulu tribe.



      Lastly, the Zulu tribe are believed to be the pioneer originator of the attire adopted by other clans and tribe within the South African cultural borders.

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