Zulu headrest, likely representing cattle. It has an unusually low extended crossbar, and eight pairs of legs thought to invoke the idea of a herd of cattle.

The surface is darkened and burnished.

Overall, the form of the present headrest resembles a bovine. The headrest appears to have horn/thorn-like legs and an unusually low, extended crossbar. Its eight pairs of legs may be intended to ‘invoke the idea of a large herd [of cattle]’ (Klopper, 1996: 207). The reference to cattle has a dual function; cattle are a source of wealth and also vital for communicating with the ancestors (Ibid.). The present surface is darkened and burnished and as such it may be favoured by the ‘shades’, or ancestors who inhabit dark places.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

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