Student Interpretation → Ngani Ndimbie

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Zulu Personal Adornment

The easiest way to identify a Zulu diviner, Sangoma, is to look for their distinctive beaded headwear. A diviner's headdress in the Zulu culture is made from beads, lengths of string, and a wool cap. Long strands of the threaded beads are hooked into the wool cap and the piece is worn to look as though it is the real hair of the wearer. Traditionally the headdresses are made in just black and white, as in this one, but contemporary headdresses have been made with other colors as well.

Diviner's Headdress

Diviner's Headdress

Zulu People
South Africa
Diviner’s Headdress
Late 20th Century
Wool, beads
Gift of Norma Canelas Roth and William D. Roth

Both male and female Zulu diviners, inzangoma, are identifiable by their elaborate headdresses of beaded hair extensions or wigs. A diviner’s coiffure may be further enhanced with a cluster of dried inflated bladders from goats sacrificed to the ancestors to show her linkage to their supernatural powers. This beaded wig has twisted threads in the place of natural hair which are attached to a knitted wool cap. Most diviners’ headdresses are adorned with white beads, although recent versions include both glass and plastic colored beads as well as other materials.

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