Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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isithimba (back apron)
  • unknown Ndebele maker
  • isithimba (back apron), mid 1900s
  • Where object was made: Transvaal Province, Union of South Africa (present-day Mpumalanga province, South Africa)
  • goat skin?, brass, beading
  • Object Height/Width: 69 x 78 cm
    Object Height/Width: 27 1/8 x 30 11/16 in
  • Gift of Reinhild Janzen
  • Not on display
  • 2007.4198
Label Text

The back apron was made of very thin animal skin, possibly goat skin that has been treated to make it a very dark brown/black color. The apron is "U" shaped, straight across the top and rounded at the bottom. At the top of the apron is another small strip of skin that hangs down and has small brass rings all along the edge. The very top edge is very thick and rounded. This edge is wrapped in beading that is sewn to the top of the apron. There is a white band, followed by a black band, then blue, then black, then white. Below that is a row of triangles that are green and blue, with black borders and a white zigzag line between the rows of triangles. Some small circular patches are sewn onto the back of the apron.

This is worn layered with 2007.4199. It is worn by married and unmarried women. Formerly everyday apparel, it is now often replaced with a bath towel and the leather is worn for ceremonial occasions. The hide has been rubbed with grease and ashes to make it pliable.