An Ode to Zulu Love Letters

Necklaces & Wall - Art

This collection is an ode to the Zulu love letter.

Zulu Love Letters are beaded messages created and given by Zulu maidens to their lovers as a token of their love and affection. Each colour and design has a different meaning. According to theories, the practice of sending love letters was started by women in the 1800s, to notify single men of their intentions. The Zulu name for these letters is called ubhala abuyise meaning (one writes in order that the other should reply). In addition to this, these letters also used to communicate messages regarding gender and marital status. This collection celebrates the craftsmanship, creativity and the compassion that went into creating these letters.


Theory states that symbols can only be meaningful at a time where there is solidarity about their meaning. They do not have meaning in themselves, they can only be given meaning by a community and that meaning needs to be one that resonates and is accepted by the community in question. Symbols, in effect, can be viewed as mediators and givers of meaning of objects and events. They channel people towards a full meaning and presence of a given object.\nOur pieces are inspired by Nguni Cultural Symbols, specifically from the Zulu, Swati and Ndebele tribes. The cultural symbols that are used in these tribes are defined as something which expresses or stands for their beliefs, identities, traits, moral values, ethical ideals, virtues, religion, signs, sacrifices, arts, civilization and the likes. We have chosen to use geometric shapes which symbolize the following:

isi-kwe-le (Square)

u-nxa-nde (Rectangle)

Both the rectangle and square symbolize a foundation and relate to tradition, trust and fairness.

i-ndi-ngi-li-za (Circle)

The circle symbolizes infinite possibilities and harmony. It is intended to convey a sense of power, energy and love.

u-nxa-nta-thu (Triangle)

The triangles symbolise stability, as the shape rests on a solid base. This creates a sense of shared power and energy, and brings harmony between the past, present and future.