Tshivenda Female Attire: A Socio-cultural Significance


This study investigated, through observation of the Tshivenḓa female dress codes, the socio-cultural significance of such dress codes as a means of non-verbal communication. The non-verbal meaning embedded in different items of dresses conveys messages from the wearers to observers. The study adopted  a qualitative  design, since it used  document analysis and literature review as a means to adduce evidence that Tshivenḓa dress codes not only communicate socio-cultural meanings to the observer, but also signify gender, age group, rank, authority, status, and identity, as well as power relations—including the supernatural and the sacred. The study also revealed that there are dress codes that are specifically worn during initiation ceremonies among the Vhavenḓa people. In conclusion, we recommend that knowledge of Tshivenḓa dress codes should form part of the overall indigenous knowledge that needs to be studied in institutions of basic and higher education, and that for the sake of preserving this valuable information, communities need to be proactive in disseminating it to the younger generation.

Author Biographies

Matodzi Rebecca Raphalalani, MER Mathivha Centre for African Languages School of Human & Social Sciences University of Venda
Dr MR Raphalalani has been lecturing Tshivenda at the MER Mathivha Centre for African Languages, Art and Culture for more than a decade. She  has presented papers at (inter)national fora and also sits in Board of Freedom Park.
Mashudu Churchill Mashige, Academic and Independent Researcher
Mashudu C Mashige is Full Professor of Literature and an Academic and Independent Researcher