Portraits of Swaziland

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Portraits of Swaziland

Dignified and handsome, Swazi people were a great subject for portrait photography and were always more than happy to pose for the camera.

Swazi woman
Woman of Mbabane
Sangoma of Msunduza
Elderly Swazi man
Mthethwa clansman
Smiling sangoma
Married woman
Swazi profile
Traditional hairstyle
Man wearing
iNcwala dress
Mrs. Malinga
Sakabula headdress
Young married woman
Young woman
School teacher
Young Swazi man
Dlamini clansman
Man from Mashobeni
Pastor, Nazareth church
Nazareth church woman
Young woman
Man of Ntonjeni
Woman of Ntonjeni
Bleached hairstyle
Elderly Swazi man
Woman of Nsangweni
Elderly man
Swazi prince
Shongwe elder
Man of Mbangweni
Elderly pastor

Swazi women traditionally wear their hair in a beehive style known as "sicolo"; the hair is teased out with a porcupine quill and a pin is often worn stuck in it: this can be used to scratch the scalp if required. Another striking hair style is the "siyendle" worn by a "sangoma" or traditional healer. Often misleadingly called "witchdoctor", the sangoma wears his or, more frequently, her, hair in ringlets that are smeared with mud and red ochre (or apparently, red floor polish is also popular with some). The male "inyanga", mainly a herbalist, may also wear his hair in small braids.

Traditionally the men would spend long hours on their appearance and this included working on the traditional hairstyle: they might sit a long time underneath a waterfall and comb their hair out to straighten it. It would then be bleached with grease and left to dry in the sun. This style could occasionally still be seen.

During Easter the Native African churches ("emaZayoni" or Zionist churches) come together in Lobamba and their members, like those of the Nazareth Church, look very impressive, often resembling prophets from the Old Testament. A member of one of the traditional "Emabutfo" regiments uses a strip of insulating foam as a headdress and during the iNcwala or First Fruits Ceremony elaborate head dresses made with feathers and pelt may be worn. The Swazi are masters in making themselves look good for all occasions!