What makes Zulu beadwork unique is the code by which particular colours are combined to create messages that are woven into decorative geometrical designs and shapes.
The colours and the shapes have particular meanings, making it possible for a ‘love letter’ (incwadi) made of beads to be sent to a sweetheart to express a range of emotions.
The most commonly used colours today are:
Red (obubomvu): I love you so much
White (obumhlope ): Whenever I see you my heart goes white as the milk of cattle when they are milked in the morning.
Black (obumnyama ):I am ready to get married
Brown (onsundu ):My love is like the earth which gives rise to new life.
Green (obuluhlaza ):Wherever I go I will meet friends as I behave well with others.
Pink (isiphofu ): I love you even though I know you don’t have enough money or cattle in your father’s kraal.
See if you can puzzle some of these out!