The Xhosa peoples have an especially rich tradition of beaded regalia and a more complex dress code. Xhosa people commonly wear a plain white (or occasionally red) wrapper also known as an isikhakha or imibhaco. In this case, a white cotton blanket has been colored with ochre, yielding a rich reddish-brown fabric that was then cut and sewn into three sections to form a skirt.
Xhosa traditional clothing indicates a person’s social status, seniority, marital status or if they are the new wife or have had a baby. This is shown in the headdress and dress of the wearer. A long Imibhaco or Isikhakha skirt with no slit in front, together with a marriage bib and two beaded aprons means the wearer is a widow. The more elaborate the headwear, the more senior the wearer. Modern Xhosa Dresses will give a hint of most of the above and carry a bearing to the traditional wear. Click here to see Modern Xhosa Dresses