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 A list of common Zulu terms relevant to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879

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PostSubject: A list of common Zulu terms relevant to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879   Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:55 pm

iBeshu (plural: amaBeshu) – calf-skin flap covering the buttocks, part of the basic umutsha costume.

umBhumbluzo (plural: abaBhumbuluzo) – Shorter war shield introduced by Cetshwayo in the 1850's during the civil war against Mbuyazi. Only 3.5 feet long compared to the longer traditional war shield, isihlangu, which measures at least 4 foot.

iButho (plural: amaButho) – regiment (or guild) of Zulu warriors, based on age-group. Sub-divided into amaviyo.

isiCoco (plural: iziCoco) - married Zulus headring made from binding a ring of fibre into the hair, coated in a mixture of charcoal and gum, and polished with beeswax. It was a common practice to share part or all of the rest of the head to accentuate the presence of the isicoco - although this varied from one Zulu to the next, and shaving the hair not a required part of a warriors 'costume'.

inDuna (plural: izinDuna) – a state official appointed by the king, or by a local chief. Also commander of group of warriors. Various levels of responsibility occurred, rank would be indicated by the amount of personal decoration – see inGxotha, isiQu.

isiFuba (plural: iziFuba) – the chest, or centre, of the traditional Zulu attack formation.

isiGaba (plural: iziGaba) – a group of related amaviyo within a single ibutho.

isiGodlo (plural: iziGodlo) – the king, or a chief's, residence found at the upper end of his homestead. Also the term for the women in the king's household.

inGxotha (plural: izinGxotha) heavy brass arm-band awarded for by the Zulu king for outstanding service or bravery.

isiHlangu (plural: iziHlangu) – traditional large war shield, approximately 4 foot long.

isiJula (plural: iziJula) – short-bladed throwing spear, used in battle.

iKhanda (plural: amaKhanda) – military barracks where an ibutho was stationed, bequested to the regiment by the king.

umKhonto (plural: imiKhonto) – general term for a spear.

umKhosi (plural: imiKhosi) – 'first fruits' ceremony, held annually.

umKhumbi (plural: imiKhumbi) – an assembly (of men) held in a circle.
isiKhulu (plural: iziKhulu) – literally 'great one', a high ranking warrior, decorated for bravery and service, or an important person in the Zulu hierarchy, a member of a council of elders.

iKlwa (plural: amaKlwa) – Shakan stabbing-spear, otherwise known as an assegai.

iMpi (plural: iziMpi) – Zulu army, and word meaning 'war'.

isiNene (plural: iziNene) - twisted strips of either civet, green monkey (insamango), or genet fur hanging as 'tails' in front of the genitals as part of the umutsha.. Senior
ranked warriors would have a multi-coloured isinene made from two or more different furs twisted together.

iNkatha (plural: iziNkatha) – the sacred 'grass coil', a symbol of the Zulu nation.
umNcedo (plural: abaNcedo) – plaited grass sheath used to cover male genitals. Most basic form of Zulu costume.

iNsizwa (plural: iziNsizwa) – unmarried Zulu, a 'young' man. Youth was a term related to lack of marital status rather than actual age.
umNtwana (plural: abaNtwana) – Zulu prince, member of the Royal house and son of the king.

umNumzane (plural: abaNumzane) – the headman of a homestead.

iNyanga (plural: iziNyanga) – traditional herbal doctor, medicine man.

isiPhapha (plural: iziPhapha) – throwing-spear, usually with a short, broad blade, used for hunting game.

uPhaphe (plural: oPhaphe) – feathers used to decorate the headdress:

iNdwa – the Blue Crane, has long (roughly 8 inches), graceful slate-grey tail feathers. Single feather used at front of umqhele headress, or one placed either side. Mainly used by higher ranking warriors.

iSakabuli – the Longtailed Widow, the breeding male has an long (up to 1 foot) black tail feathers. The feathers were often tied to porcupine quills and fixed inside the headband. Sometimes woven into a basketwork ball, umnyakanya, and worn at the front of the umqhele headband, denoting an unmarried ibutho.

iNtshe – the ostrich, both black and white feathers used. White tail-feathers significantly longer (1.5 feet) than the black body-feathers.

iGwalagwala – Knysna Lourie and the Purplecrested Lourie, green to greenish black tail feather (eight inches long) and crimson/metallic purple feathers from wings (four inches). Bunches of these feathers were used for the headdresses of very high ranking warriors.

iPhovela (plural: amaPhovela) – headdress made of stiffened cow-skin, usually in the form of two horns. worn by unmarried regiments. Often decorated with feathers (see ophaphe).

uPondo (plural: izimPondo) – the horns, or wings, of the traditional Zulu attack formation.

umQhele (plural: imiQhele) – Zulu warrior's headband. Made from a tube of fur padded out with dried bull-rushes or cow dung. Junior regiments would wear imiqhele made from leopard skin, senior regiments would have otter skin. Would also have amabheqe, ear-flaps made from the pelt of the Samango monkey, and isinene 'tails' hanging from the back.

isiQu (plural: iziQu) – bravery necklace made from interlocking wooden beads, presented to the warrior by the king.

iShoba (plural: amaShoba) – tufted cow-tails, formed by flaying part of the hide with tail attached. Used for arm- and leg- fringes (imiShokobezi), and for necklaces.

umShokobezi (plural: imiShokobezi) – cow-tail decorations worn on the arms and/or legs.

amaSi (plural only) – curdled milk, staple diet of the Zulu.

umThakathi (plural: abaThakathi) – wizard, sorcerer, or witch.

umuTsha (plural: imiTsha) – loin cloth, basic Zulu outfit, worn over the umncedo. Consists of a thin belt made of cow hide with ibeshu, a soft calf-skin flap over the buttocks, and isinene, twisted strips of either civet, Samango monkey or genet fur hanging as 'tails' in front of the genitals.

uTshwala – thick, creamy sorghum beer, rich in nutrients.

umuVa (plural: imiVa) – Zulu army reserves.

iViyo (plural: amaViyo) – a company sized group of Zulu warriors, usually between 50 and 200 men. Would be commanded by a junior level induna.

iWisa (plural: amaWisa) – knobkerrie, a knob-headed stick or war club used to bash out the brains of a foe.

umuZi (plural: imiZi) – a family based village or homestead, also the people who live there.
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