Talking Heads and Heritage: in conversation with the Lydenburg Heads

For almost 2000 years, pots, hoes, beads and, later, walls connected people from Lydenburg to Great Zimbabwe and beyond. There is meaning in the space we live in, the things we make or buy and how we choose to use them. Through space and time, this connects us all. Certain milestones in life are also universal. Initiation ceremonies, 21st birthday parties and certain religious rites are all examples of how we celebrate or acknowledge coming of age. While some rites of passage are modern, others have deep roots in the past. The 1000 year old Lydenburg Heads show us that rites of passage have been important to the people of southern Africa for a long time. We are putting together an exhibition that celebrates the Lydenburg Heads – one of South Africa’s most treasured archaeological finds, while exploring how diverse and changing culture celebrate their rites of passage.

Image credits / Iikhredithi zomfanekiso / Beeldkrediete:
Gold plated rhinoceros figurine / Umfanekiso womkhombe ogqunywe ngegolide / Goudbedekte renosterbeeldjie, © University of Pretoria
Gold finial / Isacholo segolide kuphahla lwendlu  / Goue puntversiering. © University of Pretoria
Ceramic pot / Imbiza yomdongwe / Keramiekpot © Gavin Whitelaw, KwaZulu-Natal Museum
Feathered metal spear / Umkhonto wentsimbi oneentsiba / Geveerde metaalspies. © Iziko Museums of South Africa
Ivory trumpet / Ixilongo lephondo lwendlovu / Ivoortrompet. © Iziko Museums of South Africa
Photograph: Nigel Pamplin © Iziko Museums of South Africa.