Ndebele House Painting

20 06 2021

Ndebele House Painting: From an Act of Resistance Through Art to An Ethnic Group’s Unique Identity

The combination of geometric patterns and bright colours painted on houses becomes a unique identity of the Ndebele people or Transvaal Ndebele, who live primarily in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The tradition of painting their houses with geometric patterns started in the 18th century. The paintings express the forced relocation and the fights to preserve their own identity after losing the war against the Boers, descendants of the Dutch, German, and French settlers, in South Africa in 1883, resulting in them turning to the Boer farmers’ slaves.

The Ndebele house painting tradition and colouring patterns are passed on from one generation to another. The painters must be female as it is believed that any woman who can paint beautifully will be a good mother and wife. Now, visitors can see the beautiful Ndebele house paintings in the north of South Africa.


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