Photos An Ndebele bride wears a blanket, called Nguba, as a symbol of her married status. She will add a strip of beading to the border with each year of marriage. The bride must exhibit the demure behavior and solemnity requred of an Ndebele girl entering marriage.Carrying a ritual parasol, the bride leaves the family compund bound for her husbands home. She will remain cocooned in a red ceremonial blanket until the nuptial rites are underway.Concealed under a ritual parasol and wrapped in her Nguba blanket, an Ndebele bride recieves gifts from relatives and friends on her wedding day.A Ndebele bride, wrapped in her Nguba blanket is accomapnied by female relatives and elders. The Ndebele believe that ancestors prescribe in dreams how much beading an Nguba should carry. The courtyard of an Ndebele home, where the wedding takes place, is considered a woman’s domain, where privileges and courtesies based on age and marital status are observed.The brides face is framed with a bridal headband and beaded crown. Standing in silent contemplation at the center of the courtyard outside her family home, she awaits her friends and family.Female guests gather at the entrance to the bride’s house to call her out of seclusion.Ndebele leg hoops, called golwani, made from hanks of grass wrapped in strands of glass beads, are placed on the legs of the bride. They are associated particulary with costumes worn by girls of marriageable age who have completed their intiation into womanhood.An Ndebele bride dresses in beaded leg and waist hoops and skirts that constitute her bridal outfit to indicate her availablity for marriage. The large beaded leg hoops emulate the voluptuous rolls of body fat that are considered a mark of health and beauty among Ndebele women.An Ndebele child is dressed by her grandmother in preparation for a family wedding. She accompanies the bride as a blessing and symbol of fertility. On her legs, the child wears beaded hoops called golwani. Underneath her matching waist hoops is tied an apron of beaded tassels known as lighabi. As the child grows, the lighabi is replaced by larger versions, and is finally discarded after her initiation into womanhood.A square apron called Ipepetu is worn by unmarried girls and is reputed to insure chastity. After the wedding, the bride will exhange it for a nuptial apron called Liphotu, and eventually for the five-paneled apron Ijoglo, reserved for women who have completed the marriage cycle by bearing children.The bride is greeted by master muralist Francina Ndimande who has painted many Ndebele homes as a prelude to weddings and initiations.Niece of the late King Mabhoko, Francina Ndimande started to paint as a young girl after watching her mother decorate the walls of the family home. Many of the motifs of her early paintings were influenced by the beadwork of Ndebele women.Beginning at harvest season as a prelude to weddings and initiations, Ndebele houses are freshly painted by women who have been taught the traditional techniques during girlhood initiations. Master painter Esther Mahlangu composes her designs directly on the surface of the wall using a traditional feather brush and a calabash paint pot.Painter Esther Mahlangu, also of royal descent, is famous throughout the Ndebele kingdom and internationally for her ability to combine the old world of tradition with the new world of urbanisation. Her boldly contrasting shapes and colors draw on the world about her, but also incorporate images foreign to her culture.An Ndebele woman wears beaded hooped necklaces to indicate her status and marriage. A brass torque is tightly fitted to her neck to extend its length and enhance her beauty.Originally, Ndebele houses were painted in muted mud designs, but today the women use intensely colored commercial paints that do not deteriorate from the effects of weather. Traditional Ndebele beadwork designs, as seen on the apron worn by Esther Mahlangu, also provide inspiration for mural painting.In addition to modern paints, new motifs such as airplanes, staircases, lightbulbs , double-edged razor blades and abstractions of modern architecture have been incorporated into Ndebele art. The result is a striking hybrid that fulfils a decorative function but has also become a fascinating document of the social development and personal aspirations of the Ndebele people.Internationally famous master painter, Esther Mahlangu, creates styalised abstractions to produce a vibrant twodimensional world. Though most Ndebele paintings are not believed to posess magical properties, the designs are said to protect the household from evil spirits.Neigbours of the Ndebele and relatives through intermarriage, the Pedi maintain a strong matrilineal tradition. Certain distinguished elder women, known as Pedi Queens, act as firgueheads for their communities.In fully beaded regalia, the Pedi Queens make an impressive appearence at ceremonial occasions. Mevis Mohlai wears a long beaded neck sash that bears her name. The Pedi are renowned for their beadwork and have inspired the designs of Ndebele women.