Zulu Beaded Wedding Cape Umqondo/Isikoti SUPERB South Africa
Additional Information: A superb Umqondo or Isikoti /Wedding cape.made in cotton cloth and decorated with several womderful layers of beadworks.
Specially worn by the bride during the wedding ceremony around the shoulders to respect the in-law family. The cape is made out of nine beaded panels stitched together. Each panel come from the members and relatives of the bride, they give to her as a gift when she goes to tell them about the wedding. She does this kind of invitation herself. Visiting all the relatives personal so that they can also tell her how big the step she took and how she must respect her new family. These panels are joined together the day before the wedding took place. The bride uses it on the wedding ceremony and after that she will reduce the number of panels on the small cape to five or six panels and the rest will stay individual. The panels with alphabets and initials will be made by the bride herself as a symbol of passing her happiness. The apron with more panels, would be worn on special ceremonies and the individual panel will be part of her daily attire. She will wear it around the shoulders everyday changing it as a symbol of marriage.
According to Hlengiwe, Umqondo is an earlier style consisting of several colours ...it is a combination of colours that was used during 1940's-1960's Hlengiwe Dube, Zulu Beadwork Talk with Beads, AfricaDirect Inc., 2009, p.79.
Hlengiwe wrote (p. 78): "For the wedding ceremony the bride wears a shoulder apron as a symbol of respect to the in-law family. The apron is made out of thirteen to fifteen beaded panels, each made by a member of the family or a relative, including some she will make herself. The beaded panels are joined into one big piece (isikoti) before the wedding ceremony takes place. When a woman marries before giving birth to a child, the apron is augmented with long hanging beads as a symbol of virginity. The long beads hang from the belt that she was wearing when she was a girl at the coming out ceremony.
Recommended Reading: Hlengiwe Dube, Zulu Beadwork Talk with Beads, AfricaDirect Inc., 2009, 112 pages. illustrations and photographs, paperback. shrinkwrapped.
I have examined this piece and agree with the description.
Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.