A Bride’s Skirt

Married woman's Ibhayi, Izikhambathi design, 1950s, Nongoma, Kwazulu-Natal
Married woman’s Ibhayi, Izikhambathi design, 1950s, Nongoma, Kwazulu-Natal

Last week we wrote about the ibhayi that a sangoma wears as part of her traditional attire. But amabhayi can also refer to the skirts worn by brides or married women. Like the sangoma’s skirts the amabhayi worn by brides can also double as capes or shawls, but while sangoma’s skirts are normally made from fabric, those worn by brides would typically be made up of beaded panels worn over a pleated leather skirt. The skirt is worn as a sign of respect for the bride’s in-laws and is sometimes made from beaded panels given to her as gifts from relatives when she announced her marriage.

Most online references to amabhayi tend to relate to sangomas, so it can be quite difficult to find information on them, but the Phansi Museum in Durban does have a wonderful collection of bridal amabhayi from the Bergville area. Visit their Facebook page for more images of these beautiful pieces of wearable art.

Image courtesy of galerie-herrmann.com.

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