Zulu Hat (Isicholo)
This Zulu hat (isicholo) was made in the 20th century in KwaZulu-Natal. It is made out of palm fiber, hair, and ocher, and has been mounted on a steel stand.
This type of hat originated from a hair style married Zulu women would wear by the same name, isicholo. At the turn of the 19th century, around when the Zulu forces were defeated and their homeland was taken over by the British, Zulu women began wearing hats that mimicked this hairstyle instead of the hairstyle itself. These hats were usually made with a basketry foundation that was then covered in ocher-dyed string or commercial red yarn, and secured with a woven headband.
Zulu women still wear these hats on important occasions, especially in the Msinga district, the seat of the Zulu king. A new trend began when taxi drivers complained that these ocher dyed hats were staining the linings of the ceilings of their cars: women wearing these hats started tying them up in colorful scarves.
These hats are a great example of how fashion trends change over time, both through individual innovation and outside pressure.
Circa: 20th century
Origin: KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Material: Palm fiber, red ochre pigment, hair, steel
Dimensions: 19" diameter
Inventory number: WR3873