Who We Are
"Zulu Life was the life of cows and
the cow was zulu life."
- H.L.E Dhlomo
The Zulu people of Southern Africa saw the majesty and resilience of the Nguni cattle when they traded with them over 2000 years ago. As a result, the Nguni settled within different Zulu hamlets in a place known as The Valley of a Thousand Hills where the animals became entirely integrated with the culture and customs of the Zulu tribe. It was in these landscapes that the cattle transformed into beasts of strength and beauty.
The wealth and social standing of a Zulu Chief, or any Zulu family, was determined by the size of their herd. A prospective bridegroom had to negotiate payment for the bride by means of the Nguni cattle, a process called Lobola.
Zulu people respected their cattle so much that they seldom used them for their meat. Instead, they drank the milk that the cows provided and used their dung to plaster huts and feed fires. Whilst Nguni leather is unusually thick and resistant to the environment, the hair on these beautiful hides is soft and luxurious. The hides were used in clothing, warrior shields and homestead items. Even today the hides only represent five percent of the total value of the cow. When cattle were offered up, it was for momentous occasions such as weddings or ancestral offerings.
Each hide is unique in its exclusive features. The story of each Nguni handbag is inspired by the distinctiveness of pattern found on the individual Nguni hides. Today, we take big pleasure in celebrating the individual outcome of each of our handbags!
The colours and patterns of the Nguni hides stirred the poetic heart of the Zulu people. It was natural that, living very close to nature, the Zulu people compared the Nguni hide to animals, insects, objects and plants which had similar colours and patterns. Naming was important for classification and has survived for centuries, initially only by story-telling among the Zulu people. For this reason, each of the patterns has a Zulu name.
We feel so strongly about the celebration of this rich culture and history that we choose to collaborate by association, same as the young Zulu herders used associations in nature to compose poetry in naming and describing the patterns of the hides in their herds. We select our partners by a shared vision of value, authenticity and sustainability, and in the process contribute to the economic empowerment of the woman who manufactures these exotic Nguni Handbags.
Today, we pay homage to the rich history and respect for the Nguni cattle through meticulously selecting only the highest quality materials and leather to manufacture our unique, custom designed handbags.