Young Women in Contemporary Zulu Society

by Sandra Klopper
University of Cape Town

Young Zulu women participating in the Reed Ceremony, South Africa. Photo by Sandra Klopper. 

The Reed Ceremony brings together young virgins from different regions, who prepare for the occasion by making beautifully beaded garments. The most traditional among these is the umbijo, consisting of rope-like strands of beads sewn together to form a scanty covering around the buttocks of the wearer. The patterns and colors used in the making of this beadwork differ from one region to another, although strict adherence to regional styles is becoming increasingly uncommon.