Wooden Zulu headrest with a bovine form. It has four sets of legs, thought to invoke the idea of a herd of cattle, and a chequered middle section.

Overall, the form of the present headrest resembles a bovine. It is of the ‘fat-legged’ type described by Nettleton, 2007, 268. Its four pairs of legs may be intended to ‘invoke the idea of a large herd [of cattle]’ see Klopper, S. in Phillips, T., 1995, 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 legs of this headrest also suggest the hips and thighs of a young, nubile woman, apt for an object presented as part of a woman’s dowry. References: Phillips, T., 1995, 207- 208. Nettleton, 2007.

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The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive.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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