Dressing for Initiation
Dress and Adornment of Rural South Africa

Girls Entering Puberty

BaNtwane and Pedi initiates discard everyday clothing before entering the initiation lodge. The adoption of grass garments and ornaments alludes to fertility, and hence to their future roles as wives and mothers. During their confinement in these initiation lodges, girls receive instruction in both, appropriate social and sexual behaviour.

Returning From the Initiation Lodge

©Dr Peter Magubane
When male and female initiates return to the community following their seclusion in initiation lodges, they are often given sweets and gifts like jewellery and watches. Items like these symbolise their success in surviving the hardships encountered during this period of transition.

©Dr Peter Magubane
Initiates take great pride in displaying the gifts they receive after leaving their initiation lodges. Family members pay for these gifts and the new garments initiates change into after returning to their communities.

© Professor Sandra Klopper