Bride's Hat

Zulu peoples

South African

Bride's Hat, 20th century

  • On View

Textile and pigment

Dimensions: 11 3/4 × 10 1/2 × 4 in. (29.8 × 26.7 × 10.2 cm)

Museum purchase, 2006.124

A traditional Zulu wedding is vibrant in color, with the bride, groom, and their guests expected to wear bright colors and flamboyant accessories. The bridal outfit is elaborate: the bride is decorated with red and white ocher designs on her arms and legs; a bag of pebbles is tied to her ankles to create a rhythmic effect when she dances; a veil of beads dangles from her forehead; and fiber fringes are tied to her elbows and knees. After the wedding, the bride wears a hat similar to this one, traditionally made of grass and intertwined with red and white cotton thread. Traditionally the hat would be sewn into the hair so that it could not be taken off and the woman would not appear to be unmarried while her husband was away. Today a married woman only wears the hat at special occasions.

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