In Ndebele culture, women’s headwraps, called “iqhiya” or “isicholo”, are much more than a simple piece of cloth to cover the head. They hold significant cultural and symbolic meaning.
Firstly, headwraps are a symbol of respect and modesty. Women are expected to cover their heads in the presence of elders, especially men, as a sign of respect. Additionally, headwraps are worn by married women as a sign of their status, indicating that they are taken and not available for marriage.
Secondly, the design and color of the headwrap also hold meaning. Ndebele headwraps are often brightly colored and feature intricate geometric patterns, which are a symbol of creativity, beauty, and pride in one’s cultural heritage. Each pattern has a specific meaning, such as the “u mazokhe” pattern, which represents the path of the sun or the “ndlambe” pattern, which represents the stomach of a goat and is associated with fertility and prosperity.
The wearing of headwraps is an important aspect of Ndebele culture that reflects both respect for tradition and pride in one’s identity.