Siliva Zulu at the Iziko Slave Lodge

  • Posted: Jul 22, 2011

Lidio Cipriani. A bride being prepared for her marriage dance, near Eshowe (1927). Photograph © Prof. Jacopo Moggi Cecchi
Iziko Slave Lodge, 15 August 2011 until 30 April 2012

Siliva Zulu,’ an exhibition of black and white photographs taken by controversial Italian anthropologist Lidio Cipriani (1892-1962) will open at the Iziko Slave Lodge from 15 August 2011 until 30 April 2012.  The exhibition, a collaborative project between the Social History Collections department of Iziko Museums and the Italian Institute of Culture, showcases photographs taken during the shooting of the film Siliva Zulu near Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal in 1927.

The film Siliva Zulu is probably the first in South African cinematic history in which the leading actors and supporting cast were all African. The Italian director Attilio Gatti worked with Lidio Cipriani, his advisor on Zulu culture, to produce a story that combined romantic love, betrayal and witchcraft with glimpses of indigenous rural life. Though Cipriani’s photographs depict the local Zulu actors, who in the film ‘act’ themselves and traditional characters in Zululand, they were later captioned and presented by Cipriani as ‘authentic’ ethnographic documentation.

Cipriani carried out anthropological research in the 1930s and the 1950s in some relatively inaccessible parts of Africa and Asia, and his photographic record reflects his interests in physical types and the material culture of his ‘subjects’, including clothing, ornamentation and dwellings.

The exhibition looks at stories behind the making of the film and the photographs, including aspects of the social history of Zululand at that time. It engages with controversial issues such as colonial representation, scientific racism and the fascist ideology that emerge in Cipriani’s anthropological work and his photographic records.
The photographic prints on display were made by Paul Weinburg from negatives supplied by Professor Jacopo Moggi Cecchi in Italy, and are a small fraction of Cipriani’s photographic archive housed at the University of Florence and the Archivio Fotografico Toscana.

Contact: Curator: Dr Gerald Klinghardt; and 021 481 3836



Iziko Museums (Iziko) operates 12 national museums in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections which reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and non-profit organisation which brings together these 12 museums under a single governance and leadership structure.  The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, as well as unlimited free access to individuals aged 18 and under (excluding the Castle of Good Hope and Planetarium).

COMMEMORATIVE DAYS – FREE ENTRANCE (excluding Iziko Planetarium and Castle of Good Hope)

  • Human Rights Day: 21 March
  • Freedom Day: 27 April
  • International Museum Day: 25 May
  • Africa Day: 25 May
  • Youth Day: 16 June
  • National Women’s Day: 9 August
  • Heritage Week: 19 – 25 September
  • National Aids Awareness Day: 1 December
  • Emancipation Day: 1 December
  • Day of Reconciliation: 16 December

Issued by: Melody Kleinsmith

Communications Coordinator: Institutional Advancement, Iziko Museums
Telephone +27 (0) 21 481 3861
Facsimile +27 (0) 21 481 9620
Cell 073 107 4955

On behalf of: Office of the CEO, Iziko Museums

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