Ndebele Initiation Doll


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• Size: approx 11" tall, 4.5" wide at extended arms, and 4 " deep
• Material: fabric, glass beads, stuffing unknown, wire
• Origin: South Africa

This Ndebele doll is in the traditional dress of a married woman. The style of the apron indicates that she has born a child in wedlock and symbolizes her status as a parent. 

Ndebele Dolls

These dolls are from the Ndebele people in Southern Africa. One of the smallest tribes of the region, the Ndebele are noted for their painted homes of brilliant colors that stand out in the drab countryside. Their clothing is similarly colorful. The bead work on these Ndebele dolls is as detailed as the clothing of the women themselves.

During courtship, a suitor will place a doll outside a young woman's hut, indicating his intention to propose marriage to her. When a young woman is preparing to marry, she is given a doll that she names and cares for. Her first child is then named for the doll.

In addition to strengthening the Ndebele cultural identity, the beaded Ndebele dolls are now an important export item and much needed source of income for the Ndebele woman.