Zulu Arts of Personal Adornments

           “Dress is a basic fact of social life and this, according to anthropologist, is true of all

human cultures that we know about: all cultures ‘dress’ the body in some way, be it through

clothing, tattooing, cosmetics or other forms of body painting (Polhemus 1988, Polhemus and

Proctor 1978), this excerpt from the article The Dressed Body implies that to a certain point our

bodies were meant to be dressed up and that is how us humans differentiate ourselves amongst

others. I believe that culture is one of the subjects that influence dress the most, and it is the way

we dress that then indicates our identity. On my recent visit to the Fowler museum I got a

glimpse of the way the Zulu People adorned their bodies, I there saw how this culture

represented their identities through dress. Not only did the clothing represent their identities but

also their status; both men and women wore lots of jeweled objects that emphasized what they

called the “zones of power”. These zones were the head, the reproductive organs, hands and feet.

After doing a bit of research I found out that women really wouldn’t cover their bodies, their

basic attire consisted of them covering their bottoms and exposing their breasts, all they really

wore were necklaces covering their necks and other big jewelry around their body.

              “In short, our overall style of life necessarily says something about who we are, while

dress and appearance, like the other criteria mentioned, are necessarily aspects of that overall

way of life.”, this quote taken form Identities Through Fashion mirrors the way these cultures

demonstrated their power and identities when there was not much industrialization or other

means of showing ones status. A big part about being human is being able to compare to one

another and this is basically implemented in our being since we first started evolving, a good

way to compare and differentiate from others is through clothing. Like I said before culture plays

a big role in proving us with a basis of what our wardrobe should be, while leaving the freedom

to make it our own through the different ways of styling the garments.          



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