Research into ‘Bushman’ dress by visiting scholar Dr. V. M. Viestad
The Department of Human Sciences recently hosted Dr Vibeke Maria Viestad from the University of Oslo.
Author of the book, Dress as social relations: an interpretation of Bushman dress (Wits University Press, 2018), Dr Viestad studies ‘Bushman’ (or ‘San’) material culture with a particular interest in things worn on the body. She spent several days delving into the Museum’s collections.
On 23 November she gave a talk in the storerooms, a rare opportunity for members of the public to gain insight into an active research process. She shared some of her knowledge and ideas on the design and significance of tortoiseshell boxes.
Tortoiseshell boxes in the KwaZulu-Natal Museum’s collections. Photographs by Justine Wintjes.
The boxes were potent personal belongings that helped guide their wearers safely through the world. They are still made and used by many San women in the Kalahari today. The talk attracted a full house.
Vibeke Viestad speaking about the tortoiseshell boxes in the KwaZulu-Natal Museum’s collections. Photograph by Asanda Ntshingila.
Tortoiseshell boxes on show during the storeroom talk. Photograph by Asanda Ntshingila.
Dr Viestad is also interested in the depiction of dress in rock paintings. After her visit to the Museum, she went to several rock art sites in the Groot Winterhoek mountains of the Eastern Cape with Drs Ghilraen Laue and Justine Wintjes.
Ghilraen Laue and Vibeke Viestad setting out into the Groot Winterhoek mountains. Photograph by Justine Wintjes.