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About Isicholo and Isidwaba

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Cornrows Isischolo is the circular hat worn by married women of the Zulu nation.

It is exclusively for married women, so single women, men, and children are forbidden to wear them.

Isicholo are often decorated with beads that are symbolic of the woman's husband's status.  There's an actual bead code with which people say things about themselves and their situation.

Originally, isicholo were made with human hair, conditioned with fat, and colored with red ochre.  Now, they are usually made of grasses or other fibers.  Although they were made from human hair, it is improper for a woman's own hair to show from under the hat.  The hat must completely cover the hair, or at least the hair should be tucked under it as well as possible.

During the wedding, a special beaded veil headband is worn with the isicholo called a hlonipa.  In her normal married life though, a woman wears a considerably less obstructive umqwazi.

A married woman is also supposed to cover her shoulders with a shawl called an ibhayi.  The ibhayi does not have to be any particular material.  It can even be sheer.

The traditional Zulu leather or goat skin skirt is called an isidwaba.  Women of any age may wear isidwaba, and younger women often decorate theirs with beads.

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