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Royal Commonwealth Society : Swazi girl, Mbabane, Swaziland

Tyrrell, Barbara (1912-2015)

Royal Commonwealth Society

<p style='text-align: justify;'>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 style='text-align: justify;'>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 style='text-align: justify;'> Red wing feathers of the South African grey loerie are, in Swaziland, worn exclusively by members of the two leading families, Dhlamini and Mamba. Sobhuza, the Paramount Chief, is himself a Dhlamini. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> Every day dress for a Swazi girl consists of bright cloths of designs which have developed, in the trade, strictly to Swazi taste. The various types of cloths have their names in the Swazi language. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The necklace as here depicted is typical Swazi choice in colour and design. Hair is lightened by the use of yellow soap which both blondes and straightens, length and lightness being held in high esteem by both sexes. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>See Janus record <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>here</a></p>

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