Mural Painting- The Ndebele women-Creative Inspiration- Enter to win 4 African Folklore Embroidery kits

Mural Painting- The Ndebele women-Creative Inspiration- Enter to win 4 African Folklore Embroidery kits

 While there are many tribes in Africa, the magnificent beadwork, doll- making and wall mural painting of the Ndebele tribe are a constant source of inspiration.

The houses of the Ndebele are traditionally painted with eye-catching designs, geometric shapes in various shades of black, gray, white, brown, yellow and red. For the women whose job it is to paint the house, these colors were naturally available in the natural pigments of their environment. In the present day, however Western influence is evident not only in the painting materials, which have encouraged the use of bright primary colors, but also modern motifs incorporated into this traditional art form.  Each spring the Ndebele women repaint the walls of their huts. It is generally the tradition of the young girls about to be married to paint the houses.

 Art forms such as the painting, dolls making and bead crafts are passed down from mother to daughter. There are several types of Ndebele beaded dolls and each one has different symbolic meaning.  Each of these hand-beaded African dolls is available at

 The Ndebele people were originally an offshoot of the Nguni people of KwaZulu-Natal.  Around the 1600’s the Ndebele tribe lived in Pretoria (north of Johannesburg, in South Africa.

Even though they are one of the smallest tribes, the Ndebele tribe has survived because of their adherence to tribal customs and lore such as men’s initiation rites, girl’s puberty seclusion, first fruits ceremony, marriage ceremony and lobolo (dowry) feasts.

 The initiation ceremony is a celebration of manhood. Men between the ages of 18-22 are sent away to attend schools also known as “Wella”. These schools are temporary grass shelters on hilltops. They are attended by an average of ten initiates and two elders appointed by the chief discipline the initiates and teach them tribal lore. The young men learn their responsibilities towards their families and their tribe and the means of dealing with forces that threaten tribal existence. They also receive instruction in the traditional beaded dresses worn by women. 

 During the three -month seclusion, the young men are painted with white clay- for purity, but also to make them unrecognizable. They are smeared with animal fat and wear hide skirts, softened and stitched by their families to protect them from subzero winter cold. Painful whip fights harden then and songs of praise give them courage. These events create a strong bond among the men.

 Before the young men leave for “Wela”, the young women re-plaster the outside walls of their home and reconstruct the entrance ways. They then paint and repaint each year their impressions of every day life interspersed with geometrical designs on the wall surfaces. While the young men are away at “wela” the young women throw their homes open to the visitors and relatives who travel from far away places. A white flag hoisted on a pole outside the front entrance signifies that the mother has a son at “Wela”.

 The new 8- inch kit designs are inspired by the wall and mural -painting of the Ndebele women. If would like to enter to win a set of Four Ndebele kit designs, please submit your name and email to Subject line: Enter to win.

 The winner will be announced in my February blog. All the new designs can be viewed at

  In our classes and workshops, students learn about the history and culture of the Ndebele Tribe in South Africa through African Folklore Embroidery. Students use colorful African threads and beads against a black background. Using the chain stitch, student’s embroidery images of the Ndebele lifestyles and customs of particular focus is the roles of the Ndebele women who are known for their artistry and use of bright colors in their beadwork and painting.  For a schedule of upcoming lectures, classes and workshops around the country, please email me at




Click here to view some of my products sold here at AnnTheGran

Please login to comment