Zulu Armlet – South Africa

Ingxotha are heavy brass armlets with ribbed exteriors. They were worn around the lower arm by Zulu kings, who also awarded brave warriors and senior advisors their own to indicate their rank. Only three kings were known with certainty to have awarded ingxotha: Dingane (1795-1840), Mpande (1798-1872) and Cetshwayo (1826-1884). Around twenty examples remain today, including three examples in the British Museum.

The armlet was cast with the design from a single sheet of brass and the inner side left smooth. The wearer had his arm bound with wet hides, and the partly bent, red-hot armlet was then beaten around the arm to encircle it. From then on it was unable to be removed and remained on the wearer for life, buried with a warrior in death and at times even cut off the body of a fallen soldier by British troops to be taken as war booty.

Zulu, South Africa
L 7"
Ex Lt. Gen. Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers; Kevin Conru
Published in The Art of Southeast Africa, 2008
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