Zulu, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, Early 20th century
Wood | Collection Valeria Ianigro
1.15 kg | 12cm H x 41cm L x 9cm W
The headrests of the Zulu people are designed to cradle the neck and elevate the head while sleeping. The headrests are typically decorated with relief patterns, and served a spiritual function as the ‘supporter of dreams’ as it is believed that one’s ancestors communicate through dreams. As such, headrests were deeply personal, meditative items, often passed down as heirlooms, or even buried with their owners. Traditionally, Zulu women would commission a headrest to be carved for their husband as a wedding present, symbolically linking her ancestral lines.