Royal Commonwealth Society : Fingo witch doctor, Peddie, Ciskei

Royal Commonwealth Society

<p>Barbara Eleanor Harcourt Tyrrell was born in 1912 in Durban and grew up in Zululand. Her father was an assistant magistrate and later interpreter in the Department of Native Affairs. Tyrrell trained as an artist at the University of Natal during the 1930s and worked for a time in London on fashion drawing. She returned to South Africa and settled in Richmond. Her interest in the rich and diverse dress and adornments worn by the peoples of southern Africa inspired her to document them at a time of increasing modernisation and westernisation. Tyrrell embarked upon her first field trip in 1934, and by the 1960s had recorded the costume and customs of virtually all of southern Africa's peoples. Today, a large body of Tyrrell's work forms part of the Campbell Collections at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. </p> <p>The watercolour is one of sixty original watercolours by Barbara Tyrrell which were presented to the Royal Empire Society by Dr Killie Campbell and Mrs Gladys Hepburn in 1950. The watercolours each measure 280 x 380 mm and are accompanied by detailed captions by the artist, which we have faithfully reproduced.</p> <p>The Fingo and Xosa diviners are similar in their dress, wearing a tall hat of animal skin, white beads over the eyes, and at the throat a white skirt surmounted by a kilt of animal skin strips. On one wrist is worn a long string of white beads coiled in a neat band. </p> <p> This is first assumed after the diviner had the dream which marked him or her off as a future diviner. </p> <p> This white band of beads is the first indication to the community that the wearer has been selected by the spirits to become a diviner. </p> <p>See Janus record <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='https://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0115%2FRCMS%20211'>here</a></p>


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