(Zulu Earplugs)

Neckpieces & Wall - Art

Within the Zulu community there are a series of steps, processes and ceremonies, that represent different rites of passage. One of the most important of these ceremonies was the ukuqhumbuza, an ear piercing ceremony.

According to Hlengiwe Dube, Zulu beadwork. 2009:92,

“The ukuqhumbuza ceremony was a gender-inclusive rite of passage which was held during a New Moon phase after the crops had been harvested because it was believed that holding this ritual during the New Moon is the rebirth of an old soul. The ukuqhumbuza ceremony marked the first step towards the path to adulthood, and by piercing the ears, it was believed that the child’s ears had now been opened and that he or she would be able to hear well and therefore be able to understand things better. With this came greater responsibilities and more onerous duties.”

The ukuqhumbuza process was cutting an incision in the ear-lobes and bamboo or training plugs, ranging in size, where progressively inserted into the lobe to gradually increase the dimension of the incision. Thereafter, one would adorn their ears with iziqhaza (Zulu earplugs) which indicated that a person had completed the ukuqhumbuza ritual and also signified the transition to adulthood and eligibility for marriage.

The history of Iziqhaza (Zulu earplugs) dates back to the late 1800s and the designs on the earplugs were historically inspired by traditional bead work motifs. After the 1930s the designs changed as a result of the earplug makers or artists being employed in city centers as miners, domestics workers and gardeners. After the 1930s the makers were stylistically influenced by geometric details on Art Deco buildings in Johannesburg and Durban. Interestingly household detergents such as sunbeam floor polish also became an inspiration.

Text referenced from: Tribalnow

Our new drop is inspired by Iziqhaza. We are celebrating the craftsmanship and the creativity that went into making these ear plugs."