Lydenburg Head

Early South African History
About This Project

One of seven hollow ceramic sculptures found in an Iron Age site near Lydenburg in Mpumalanga. Dated to between AD 500 to 800, the heads were made by early black farming people. This and one other sculpture could be worn as a mask, but the others were probably mounted on wooden poles. Some of the applique features may represent hair, body scars and dental mutilation.


Originally painted black and white, the heads were probably secret objects, representing various spiritual forces important to initiation ceremonies.