Zulu Beer Vessels

In the Twentieth Century. Frank Jolles. Arnoldsche 2015. English. 254 Seiten, 400 Abb. 24.7 x 24.5 cm. 1,2 kg. Softcover with dust jacket. 9783897904231. art-15260
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The history, classification and geographic prevalence of the beer vessels, today almost disappeared from Zulu life, are now comprehensively presented for the first time and documented in a scholarly way.

Brewing beer has a long tradition with the Zulus, the largest ethnic group of South Africa. The beverage was traditionally prepared by women at home in ornate ceramic vessels specially made for this purpose. This book aims to present the rich palette of styles of these vessels in all their beauty and to save them from being forgotten.

While there are certainly many studies on African ceramics, profound works that survey the individual regions are not among them. It is surprising that they have not been addressed until now, for earthenware vessels were an integral feature of daily life and impart an insight into many aspects of local culture and social change.

The colourful history of the Zulus since the early nineteenth century, including the violent racial segregation in recent years, accompanied a golden age of traditional arts and crafts that served as both a bestower of identity and provided a link to their ancestry. In the Zulu-speaking region there is a wealth of forms and decorative elements that is unprecedented in the ceramic of South Africa. This current publication documents this influence of colonial politics and of the subsequent apartheid laws on style and prevalence of the popular beer vessels.