Xhosa The Xhosa culture has a dress code informed by a person’s personality
The Xhosa culture has a dress code informed by a person’s personality, and features breath-taking beadwork and printed fabrics. Traditionally, women’s clothing and accessories show the different stages of life.
Their main items of clothing include long skirts and aprons in beautiful printed or embroidered fabrics. complex beaded necklaces called ithumbu are worn around the neck, as well as beaded bracelets and anklets. The iqhiya or headscarf is traditionally worn by married women. To complete the look, embroidered capes or blankets are worn around the shoulders.
Xhosa men traditionally filled the roles of warrior, hunter and stockman and, animal skin formed an big part of their traditional wear. On special occasions embroidered skirts are worn with a rectangular cloth over the left shoulder, or a tunic and strands of beaded necklaces.
In Zulu culture, women also wear different clothes at different times of their lives. A single young woman wears her hair short and only a short grass-reed skirt embellished with beads, while engaged women will cover their breasts and grow their hair.
A married woman covers her whole body to show that she is spoken for. She wears a thick cowhide skirt that has been softened with animal fat and charcoal. Traditionally, women covered their breats with a cloth, but now cotton vests or beaded bras are worn along with beaded necklaces.
The most iconic items are circular-shaped hats called izicolo, which are worn by married women. These hats were traditionally made of grass and cotton and measured a metre across to protect the wearer from the sun.
The Ndebele tribe are renowned for their intricate beadwork and brightly coloured homes painted in geometric designs. The main element of Ndebele women’s wear is an apron. Girls wear small beaded aprons, while older girls wear isiphephetu, a beaded apron given to them by their mothers, and isigolwani which are thick beaded hoops worn around their necks, arms, legs and waist.
Married women wear longer aprons made of hardened skin that are lavishly decorated in geometric designs. They also wear isigolwani and copper rings called idzilla around the neck, ankles and arms. Girls and unmarried women traditionally dont cover their breasts, whereas married women cover their upper bodies with blankets in multi-coloured stripes or beaded designs.
Ndebele men wear animal skin aprons and beaded breast-plates or iporiyana which hangs from the neck. The iporiyana is a symbol of manhood and is given to a young man by his father after he has undergone initiation. Animal skin headbands and ankle bands are also worn along with a cape.
Venda girls traditionally wear a shedo, a small apron which covers the crotch area. When girls develop breasts, they wear an nwenda at the waist or around one shoulder, which is made from brightly coloured striped fabric. Beaded necklaces, bangles and headbands are also worn.
Venda boys and men traditionally wore a loin-cloth called a tsindi. The tsindi is a triangular piece of animal skin covering the front, put between the legs and tied at the back. In colder weather, they also wore a cloak over their shoulders. Today Venda men often wear shirts made from nwenda fabric paired with trousers.