South Africa // KwaZulu-Natal //

Zulu crafts and curios

Durban’s huge range of galleries, craft shops and markets makes it one of the best places in the country to pick up Zulu crafts. Traditional works include functional items such as woven beer strainers and grass brooms, and basketry that can be extremely beautiful. Other traditional items are beadwork, pottery and Zulu regalia, of which assegais (spears), shields, leather kilts and drums are a few examples.

The availability of cheap plastic crockery and enamelware has significantly eroded the production of traditional ceramics and woven containers for domestic use. Even so, the effects of urbanization have led to the use of new materials, or new ways of using old materials. Nowadays you’ll find beautifully decorated black-and-white sandals made from recycled rubber tyres, wildly colourful baskets woven from telephone wire, and sjamboks (whips) decorated with bright insulation tape. On the more frivolous side, industrial materials have been married with rural life or rural materials with industrial life. Attractive tin boxes made from flattened oil cans, chickens constructed from sheet plastic, and aircraft and little 4WD vehicles carved from wood are just some of the results.

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