The Ndebele Art of House Painting

Ndebele house painting originated from the Southern Ndebele people of South Africa in the mid-18th century. Over time, the striking colours and patterns became key features of the overall design. By the late 20th century, however, a new style had evolved. What were once finger-painted works were now created using bundled twigs with feathers as brushes. The walls are still originally whitewashed, but the outlines and colours have significantly changed. The patterns and symbols can be seen today with a rich black outline around vivid colours. There are five main colours represented: red and dark red, yellow to gold, a sky blue, green, and sometimes pink. The colours give an intensified symbolic meaning to the Ndebele. They can represent status or power of the home's owners, offer prayer, announce a marriage in the home, and even commemorate a social protest.

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