Isigcina ntliziyo-ivila (lazy woman)


This depiction portrays a woman with agile feet but lacking arms, symbolizing laziness in isiXhosa culture. She is depicted as a gossiping figure, constantly on the move, spreading rumors. The presence of two diamonds, signifying her two children, suggests that she may be a new wife. In traditional Xhosa society, where women typically bore many children, having only two indicated the early stages of motherhood.

The creation of this piece may have stemmed from a husband’s inkazana, or side chick, aiming to provoke his wife. However, in response, wives traditionally refrained from retaliating by making beads for their husbands.

This narrative encapsulates the complexities of interpersonal relationships and cultural norms, as well as the subtle nuances embedded within Xhosa beadwork. It serves as a testament to the intricate storytelling and symbolism inherent in this traditional art form.