Every year on 24 September, South Africans celebrate Heritage Day in honour of the diverse cultural wealth of our nation. The ‘Rainbow Nation’ includes the Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, and English languages (to name a few noting that South Africa has 11 official languages) as well as a number of different religions and cultures.
Many people will be lighting up a braai, visiting a museum, getting out into nature, spending time with family or even taking a trip to Robben Island, or another iconic Heritage site on Heritage Day. But there are several ways to highlight and celebrate these various cultures and our colourful history on a daily basis.
One of these ways is to wear a bright and bold Mzansi Mask that is made with a stunning shweshwe print.
Shweshwe is a printed cotton fabric that is iconic with South Africa, also known as ‘indigo-dyed discharge printed fabric’.
The material first arrived in South Africa in 1858 when German settlers wore indigo cloth. It was originally available in blue and known as the ‘German print’. The material was produced in Europe and brought to South Africa via the settlers.
The fabric was then presented to King Moshoeshoe as a gift by French missionaries. From there, it became a popular print locally known as shoeshoe and later shweshwe.
Over the years, the fabric has been used by Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana and Pedi people in traditional ceremonies.
Read more about thehistory of shweshwe in South Africa.
Shweshwe is made when the cotton fabric is fed through copper rollers that have had the pattern etched into them. This is mixed with a weak acid solution which bleaches out the distinctive designs.
Traditionally, shweshwe is quite stiff until washed and can be identified by a distinct smell. This is largely because starch was used to preserve the fabric during long sea voyages from the UK to South Africa in the past. This characteristic of the fabric has been retained even though the fabric isn’t at risk of being damaged by damp.
Image credit: wikipedia
Here are some fun facts about the colourful fabric that can help start a conversation this Heritage Day.
Image credit: Da Gama textiles
Our locally-made Mzansi Masks come in a range of colours and patterns - including shweshwe. Here are our popular, shweshwe-patterned barrier masks that can be bought on our site, available in adults, teens and kiddies sizes (for select masks).
We also have an incredible lockdown special that includes several of our beautiful shweshwe masks.
Our masks are handmade in South Africa. By wearing your Mzansi Mask, you’re keeping you and your community protected while supporting a local business.
Whether you’re living in South Africa, or reside abroad, why not celebrate your cultural heritage with a shweshwe printed Mzansi Mask? You can browse our online store and add your mask (or masks) of choice to the cart.
Wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against the third wave of COVID in South Africa.Fabric masks may seem equal in quality, but Mzansi Beautiful triple-layer masks are optimal in design to offer long-lasting protection.
At Mzansi Beautiful we sell a selection of beautiful, health and wellness products that have been made with love. Our stunning gifts range in price, and we have a gorgeous choice of items that cost less than R250!