Symbols of South African Cultures

  • Location: South African National Gallery
Symbols of South African Cultures

Symbols of South African Cultures - in collaboration with the South African Post Office’s Philately Services.  A series of commemorative stamps depicting local cultural artefacts, as captured by local photographer Hein Botha.

The objects depicted on the stamps were selected by Dr Johnny van Schalkwyk, anthropologist at the Ditsong National Museum of Cultural History in Pretoria. Each symbol was chosen to represent an ancient South African culture.  “All the objects are decorated with colours and patterns, which add very much to their meaning,” says Dr Van Schalkwyk.

Two of the artefacts drawn from Iziko’s Permanent Collections represent South Africa’s oldest cultural symbols - 75 000-year-old engraved ochre and marine shell beads discovered at the Blombos Cave in the Blombosfontein Nature Reserve outside Cape Town.

Iziko recognises the importance of preserving our ancient heritage and making collections like these accessible to people from all walks of life.

South Africa has a rich and diverse cultural history that goes back thousands of years. Throughout the years, the different cultural groups have communicated their traditions, beliefs and social customs in a variety of forms such as religious objects, utensils, artefacts, clothing and accessories. Many of these have remained intact to tell their stories to this day. Every object created by one of South Africa’s cultural groups conveys a message that tells us something about the culture they represent. All of the featured objects on exhibit are decorated with certain patterns and colours, which have a specific meaning and are unique to South Africa.

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