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.