Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends – The Zulus Part 2 #Beadwork #Traditionalstory

Last month for Dark Origins, African Myths and Legends, I shared an introduction to the Zulu people of South Africa, the Great Zulu King Shaka and the legend of the Buffalo Thorn tree. If you missed it, you can read it here: https://writingtoberead.com/2022/04/27/dark-origins-african-myths-and-legends-the-zulus-part-1/

This month, I will be sharing information about Zulu beadwork and the messages contained therein as well as a traditional story.

Zulu beadwork

The Zulu people of South Africa have a rich tradition of beadwork. Originally, bone, small horns, shells and small pieces of polished wood and stone were pierced to make beads that were strung together as necklaces and belts.

When the Zulus started trading with the Europeans at the end of the 18th century, glass and ceramic beads were introduced into their beadwork.

Traditionally, both men and women wore beaded belts called umutsha to which a piece of cloth was attached to cover the pubic area. The belts have conical brass buttons that fasten the belt at both ends.

The colours and designs incorporated into Zulu beadwork hold specific meanings. Red beads, for example, signifies intense and jealous passion or eyes that are red from watching for a loved one to return. Yellow signifies contentment, pink or green for poverty or coolness, white for faithfulness and purity and black to indicate a desire to be married.

The main shape used in traditional Zulu beadwork is the triangle where the three corners represent Father, Mother, and Child. The triangle is also used to indicate gender and marital status, for example, if the tip points upwards it represents an unmarried girl. If the tip points downwards, it means an unmarried boy.

Zulu beadwork is used to make traditional dolls and jewelry as well as beaded ostrich eggs and bead coasters.

In summary, beads are an integral part of African history and culture. The serve as a form of money, indicate wealth, are spiritual talismans and form coded messages for the recipient.

Traditional Zulu music:

The South African pre-battle Haka:

Reading of a traditional Zulu story

My reading of The Chief’s Daughter and the Cannibal, a traditional Zulu story from Myths and Legends of Southern Africa by Penny Miller:

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5


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44 Comments on “Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends – The Zulus Part 2 #Beadwork #Traditionalstory”

  1. I am thoroughly enjoying these posts about the Zulu. The beadwork is lovely and I am fascinated by the fact that they basically use the beads as a form of communication!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Staci Troilo says:

    That’s so interesting! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That was absolutely enjoyable, Robbie. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    This month, my Dark Origins post discusses the meanings behind Zulu beadwork and shares a traditional Zulu story. Thanks for hosting Kaye Lynne Booth.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. D.L. Finn, Author says:

    Fascinating i formation about tbe beadwork. I enjoyed the videos and the story read. Thanks, Robbie 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I loved to learn about the Zulu beadwork and the meaning of the colors. They’re beautiful. Thank you for the information, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Gwen M. Plano says:

    So intriguing, Robbie. Thank you for sharing all this information about the Zulu. Their beadwork is extraordinary and their singing so beautiful. The whole post is fascinating. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

  8. CarolCooks2 says:

    I love this post-Robbie and the fact that the beautiful beadwork is a method of communication…Fascinating 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I greatly enjoyed this fascinating and informative post about Zulu culture. When I listened to the first video, it reminded me immediately of Paul Simon’s Graceland album. I remember at the time, he was criticized for exploiting the indiginous musicians on the album. The folktale you read was a delight–and surprisingly suspenseful!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Toni Pike says:

    Fascinating, Robbie – Zulu culture and history is enthralling. Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

  11. A lovely post. A song from one of my favourite singers: https://youtu.be/jPOM_3ZkU0Y

    Liked by 3 people

  12. JT Twissel says:

    Interesting! I probably won’t get over there but I love reading about other cultures!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Teri Polen says:

    The beadwork is stunning, and I’m glad you gave an explanation of the colors and their meanings. Thanks for sharing this, Robbie!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. So interesting to learn more about Zulu culture. I will have to revist the videos. Love also their music.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jan Sikes says:

    Very interesting! And the beadwork is stunning! Thanks, Robbie!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Marsha says:

    I loved the story, Robbie. Glad the cannibal got his just desserts. LOL. I enjoyed the lesson about beadwork. You have become quite an expert on South Africa. I am amazed at the breadth of things you do

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Baydreamer says:

    I enjoyed learning about the beautiful beadwork and listening to you read, Robbie. Truly fascinating and educational. Thanks for sharing with us…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jennie says:

    This is so interesting, Robbie. Beads were also important to the Native Americans here in America. Wonderful post!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. dgkaye says:

    Thanks for this interesting post Robbie. It was informative and I’d have never thought that those differing beads all communicated different messages. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  20. olganm says:

    I love beadwork, Robbie. I didn’t know anything about its meaning, though, but you’ve explained it very well. Many thanks again.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Dan Antion says:

    I always enjoy learning more about the culture and traditions of the native populations of an area. Thanks for this post, Robbie. I always enjoy listening to you read.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Carla says:

    I very much enjoy these posts about Zulu customs. I enjoy learning about other cultures. Thanks Robbie and Kaye for hosting.

    Liked by 2 people

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