This wonderful doll is made using old Zulu beadwork and contemporary materials including wire, yarn, and corrugated cardboard.
For more information on Zulu dolls see the book on Zulu beadwork by Hlengiwe Dube. She wrote:
"Beaded dolls are used for many purposes in traditional African societies and come in many varieties. They play a role in fertility and healing ceremonies. Older girls make dolls in connections with courtship customs. Beaded dolls and animals were also made for games and for young girls and boys playthings. Traditionally, dolls were not made for sale.
Traditional healers/sangomas use dolls to heal patients. If the patient is too sick to visit the sangoma, the members of her or his family will dress a doll with the patient’s belongings and carry it to the sangoma for healing. Whatever the sangoma does to the doll is expected to automatically help the patient. Dolls were also made as a decorative ornament for a car to protect from accidents. Sometimes the sangoma would put umuthi inside the stomach of the doll so that the umuthi could take a bad spirit away from the car owner.
A beaded doll may also be hung over a woman’s bed as a lucky token if she is longing to have babies. After the birth of her baby the doll will be destroyed, and the mother will make a playing doll for the child when it is ready to play with toys.
In the Msinga area of KwaZulu-Natal I had the opportunity to meet Hluphekile Zuma, a well-known doll maker. I met Hluphukile and her daughter Lobolile Ximba in 1990 at the African Art Centre. Hluphekile started making beaded dolls for sale in 1978, the same year that she lost her husband. She sold dolls on the roadside and in the community. She had started making dolls when she was a teenager and had also taught her daughter Lobolile how to make them. Lobolile made traditional-type dolls as toys for her children. This is a departure from the custom of making beaded dolls in a courtship context, a custom which had lapsed before Lobolile`s time.
I was very interested in these wonderful modern style dolls that were being made but I was sorry that they were not designed to stand alone, without support. I thought about how we could develop them and was pleased that the African Art Centre organised a workshop where doll makers could meet. I taught them different styles of beading and we also shared ideas with the Mchunu family from the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The dolls that we had developed by the end of the workshop were amazing. Since then new ideas have developed and the high standard of quality is greatly appreciated by buyers. People nowadays use dolls for decorative purposes. "
Hlengiwe Dube, ZULU BEADWORK.TALKING WITH BEADS, AfricaDirect, Inc., Denver, 2009, pp.103-109