A visit to Khaya La Bantu cultural village in the Eastern Cape will give you a taste of authentic Xhosa hospitality and open your eyes to the role that traditional art and craft play in the cultural identity of the Xhosa people.

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An ‘isidlokolo' is an animal skin hat decorated with large beads and used by Xhosa healers.

Khaya La Bantu Cultural Village in the Eastern Cape offers fascinating insight into Xhosa art, craft and culture.

Traditionally, the Xhosa are famous for their brightly coloured clothing and textiles, long-stemmed pipes, beadwork and music. More than being simply decorative however, Xhosa arts and crafts are linked to cultural practices and play an important role in social identity.

When you arrive at this cultural village in East London, you will be welcomed with songs and dancing. Traditional music involves a range of instruments combined with group singing and there are songs for various ritual occasions. One of the best known is 'Qongqongthwane', a wedding song made famous by Miriam Makeba.

Some of the performers will be wearing ‘ithumbu', a bead necklace worn when dancing or ‘iqoqo', a decorative, beaded band worn around the lower back. Your guides will tell you more about the role of dress and costume in Xhosa culture as they show around Khaya La Bantu Cultural Village.

You'll also see first-hand how beading and weaving are used in elaborate outfits in bright colours worn by Xhosa women. These are typically adorned with braiding and beads over a skirt and a colourful headdress that show the stages of a woman's life. For example, one kind of headdress is worn by a newly married woman and replaced with a different one when she has her first child.

Hairstyles and headdresses that indicate a woman's social status remain fashionable throughout the Eastern Cape where, although dress and costume are bound first and foremost to tradition, they also have broader appeal as collectable fashion items.

Also look out for objects made from wood and natural clays, such as cooking pots, decorative Xhosa pipes and mats and baskets made from reeds and grass.

On a visit to this traditional Xhosa village, you will also meet a traditional healer, learn about coming of age and other rituals that remain important to the Xhosa people and of course, enjoy some locally brewed beer with a traditional meal.

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