Student Interpretation → Elise Carson

  • Dance Staff
  • Dance Staff
  • Bridal Walking Stick

Ndebele and Ngwane Staffs

This staff was created by the Ngwane people of South Africa. Though it was created in the 20th century, when darker colors of beads became available, its creator chose to use bright colors instead. It is possible that the word “xola,” which is beaded near the crook of the staff, refers to hopes for peace within the marriage.

Bridal Walking Stick

Wedding Staff

Zulu People
South Africa
Wedding Staff
20th Century
Wood, glass beads, fiber
Gift of Norma Canelas Roth and William D. Roth
2006.45.8

By the mid-20th century, many accoutrements used in weddings and other festive ceremonies were adorned with beads. This beaded cane was possibly of Ngwane origin, however, the vivid colors are not characteristic of the area but have been adapted in the modern style, or isimodeni. Canes are carried by older men at wedding ceremonies in this region and in other regions are carried by young women in coming out ceremonies. The word “xola” spelled out in the green area means “sorry,” and may express some resistance to the marriage or an apology for some past transgression.

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