Ndebele House Art

In science we have been working on the African Grasslands. We have been learning about the habitat and the different animals. Well I have been wanting to add some art into our curriculum as it’s been a while since we had the chance to do art. I stumbled up on Ndebele House art. It was a lesson plan in one of my art subscriptions. Even though we didn’t study the Ndebele people I thought it would be fun to tie it in as a theme.

The Ndebele people live in South Africa. The language that is spoken is Bantu. One thing I find fascinating about these people is the fact that the women carry on the traditions of the colorful beadwork and painting of the walls of the home, both interior and exterior. The walls are painted with really strong and vibrant colorful geometric designs. The house are made out of mud and thatch I believe.

The interesting thing about the geometric designs is the fact that it is a form of expression. The expressions could be personal prayers, grief, self-identification, values, emotions, and marriage. This tradition of painting is passed on down through generations of women. A well painted home shows female of the house is a good wife / mother. One thing that has changed in the present day is some of the styles of the art.

It’s interesting as when house were first painted they were painted with fingers, and now they use twigs with feathers and brushes to paint. The walls are still white washed. The colors use to be natural pigments consisting of browns, blacks, and ochres. Now you have black outlines with colors such as red and dark red, yellow to gold, sky blue, green, and sometimes pink. The colors give a symbolic meaning. Again the symbolic meaning is put into an expression and then painted. The paintings are a form of abstract art, by the way is one of my favorite types of art. The white walls sure do make the colors stand out.

I had to google the Ndebele Houses so my daughter could get a good visual on what she should be doing. However, she has a mind of her own sometimes and likes to do things her way…… She did start out making some neat geometric designs but then changed her mind on how it should look.

She asked me to draw out the house for her. So I did. Then she did the design of painting with watercolor and she did draw some of it out her self. Once she was doing with the water colors, she went and grabbed construction paper. I let her pick whatever color she wanted because I knew she wouldn’t be happy with brown and doing what she should have done. We tore the construction paper and glued the roof on. The paper tearing gave it texture.

Here is the google image link for Ndebele House Paintings. Take a peek at them. They are absolutely stunning!

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