Zulu headrests are remarkably diverse in form and decoration, many having as many as eight legs. It is unknown why so many styles exist, particularly in old exampels like this one/ Regional variations suggest that particular Zulu-speaking groups may have favoured particular forms and patterns. Multiple legs might be a reference to cattle as they are a source of wealth. In the 19th century Zulu tradition, headrests formed part of the dowries young Zulu-speaking brides took with them to their husband’s homesteads.

Object Summary

Museum Number 3/1921/2
Simple Name head rest
Full Name head rest
Common Name isigqiki
Production country South Africa
Material wood
Collection class Household objects
Collection continent Africa
Collection area/region S
Production county Colony of Natal (now southern KwaZulu-Natal)
Production continent Africa
Cultural group Zulu