The Ultimate Ndebele Traditional Attire (2024)

The Ndebele Traditional Attire is made from colourful African fabrics and varies between the different genders. Intricate patterns of beadwork and geometric designs are used in designing the clothing of these tribal people. Their homes are painted in striking bright colours similar to their attires.

The Ndebele cultures are people of the Nguni tribe and are subdivided into 4 groups; the Swazi people from Swaziland, the Central and Southern Nguni, and the areas inhabited by the Ndebele people. The origin of the South African Ndebele is not fully known, however, they identify as part of the Nguni tribe.

In this post, we highlighted some of the modern trends in attire from the Ndebele community in Southern Africa. If you are also interested in finding out who are the Ndebele people of South Africa and their cultural attires, then you should keep reading.

Modern Ndebele Traditional Attire for Ladies

Ndebele Dresses: Traditional Art Meets Fashion

The main clothing element worn by women in the Ndebele tribe is an apron. Both younger and older girls wear beaded aprons but the older girls wear a special apron given to them by their mothers. This is known as isiphephetu. Traditionally, young girls and even unmarried women do not cover their chest region.

Married Ndelebe women do not leave their chest area open, instead, they cover their cleavage with multicoloured, striped or beaded blankets. The beaded blanket worn by wives is called ngurara but if it is without beads, then it is an ikombesi. The ngurara is usually colourful and may have brown, red, yellow, blue, and green stripes.

The aprons for married women are usually longer and are styled from hardened animal skin with ornate geometric designs. It is called iphotho. They accessorize their attire by wearing isigolwani and idzilla (copper rings) around the neck, ankles and arms. The copper and brass ring worn by the Ndebele wife symbolises her faithfulness and bond to her husband.

The Ndebele women’s wear also includes thick beaded hoops – isigolwani that is commonly worn around the neck, arms, legs and waist. The bead patterns used to decorate the apron of a young wife or expectant mother are usually done in a way to show her age group.

Classy Modern Ndebele Traditional Attire for Men

The Ndebele Traditional Attire for men is an apron made from animal skin and iporiyana – beaded breastplates that hangs from the neck to the midriff. The iporiyana is a symbol of manhood which shows that the young man has undergone the traditional initiation rites.

The breastplate is given to the young man by his father or an elderly relative. He may also wear headbands made from animal skin, and ankle bands, with a cape to adorn his attire.

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