Symbols and Meanings
The Zulu community basically uses the beadwork as a way to communicate with each other, just like the old tradition of weddings, men give women engagement rings so others know that they are not available in the dating community no more, and the Zulu community uses beadwork as a form of communication with each other. The simplest shapes in which they provide Gender info or even material status is a triangle. Depending on the way that the tip of the triangle is pointing, it informs whether the person wearing it is a boy, a girl and if they are married.
Each corner of the triangle has its own representation, just like the Catholics have the holy trinity representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, for the Zulu Community, each corner of the triangle signifies Father, Mother, and Child. With that, there are different ways you can design it, first if the triangle’s tip is pointing up it means that the woman is unmarried. For men if the triangle’s tip is pointing down, then it means unmarried man. To signify that a woman is married, they put two triangles together in a form of a diamond, which to them as well is a universal fertility symbol for the Zulu community. For married men, they make the two tips of the triangles meet that forms sort of an hourglass shape. One of the other ways that the Zulu communicates with the beadwork is by color. Color is the primary way they communicate feelings and symbols in which they want to express. Each color has its own meaning, even when it comes to putting those colors together, it could be a negative or positive expression in which they are conveying.
From its colors, to the shapes and patterns that are created, the Zulu beadwork represents a combination of all three of the non-material culture, which are expressive, reflective and societal. The style and creativity that is expressed in every single creation that comes from the Zulu beadwork, just by wearing it, men and women wear the beads not only as fashionable jewelry, but as a way to express feelings and sending messages to one another. As to the knowledge of the way in which the communication behind the beadwork takes charge, it is what links it to reflective culture. Societal culture has been with the Zulu Beadwork since the beginning, why? You might ask, well back in the beginning of the Beadwork, it was a precious product that first represented high societal status and an importance in the community for those who embellished themselves with it. Now the value of beadwork has changed from when if first came out, because not its easy to get one that it does not have the same importance as it once had.
Each product of the Zulu Beadwork, has the maximum of seven colors in which can be used. The main shape that they use as a marking is a triangle, because of the representation that each endpoint represents. Depending on the markings and symbols that are put together in each piece has its own message. To understand the symbols and messages that are created in each piece of jewelry or artifact, you need to first understand the Zulu Language so that the messages can be clear and understandable. When there are triangles in shapes of and hour class that means that the man wearing it is married and when it is in shape of a diamond the message is that the woman is married. With the color coding, when ever black is next to white, it means marriage, red next to Black means an Aching Heart, yellow combined with red and black is usually negative and meaning that they are withering away. Most of the beadwork shapes that are used specify whether that one particular person is single or taken. Depending on the colors it explains the mood that person is in. Just like we use Black to represent Grief and the loss of a loved one when it comes to attending funerals, the Zulu communities use colors and jewelry to express how they feel.