Headrests

Traditional Zulu headrests were carried as symbols of affluence.

The geometric patterns and reliefs were unique to individual artists and varied from region to region.

Designed by a new bride or her father, headrests were presented as part of the bride’s dowry. Typically, they were commissioned as a pair, one for the bride, the other for the groom. Intended to cradle the neck and support the head, headrests were used by sheep herders to recline and rest, while still watching their flocks at night. During the day, they often served as stools.

  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    6 x 21.5 x 3.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    5.5 x 17 x 2.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    7 x 19 x 3.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    6.5 x 17.5 x 2.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    6.5 x 17.5 x 3.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    5 x 18 x 3.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    6 x 17 x 3.5 ″ Carved and sculpted from a single, hardwood block.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    6 x 16 x 3 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    4.25 x 15.5 x 2.75 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    4 x 16 x 2.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    6 x 14 x 3.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    5 x 18 x 3.75 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    6.5 x 22 x 3 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    4.75 x 14 x 3.2 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    6.5 x 25.5 x 3 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    4.75 x 16 x 3 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    6.5 x 24 x 3.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    5 x 16 x 3 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    4.5 x 15 x 2.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    5.5 x 13.75 x 3 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    4.5 x 15 x 2 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    5 x 19 x 4.25 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    4.75 x 17 x 3.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    5 x 17 x 4 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    5 x 17.25 x 3 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    4.25 x 15 x 3.5 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; the rich patina indicates many decades of daily use.
  • Headrest (Zulu People, Southern Africa)
    5.5 x 19 x 4 ″ Hand carved from a single, hardwood block; a rich patina indicates decades of daily use