4th Graders have been learning about the Ndebele house paintings of South Africa. The Ndebele women carry on this traditional art form, covering their village (homes, gates, and doors) with bright colors, symmetrical patterns, and geometric shapes. Students enjoyed learning about the tools used to create these detailed, flat designs. What were once painted using only the women’s fingers, are now done using brushes made of bundled twigs with feathers. We also learned that these paintings were used as a form of communication or “secrete code” known only to the Ndebele people. Years of grief and hardship were brought onto the Ndebele people, after the loss of a war with a neighboring tribe. From sadness and grief emerged a new expressive art form. It’s true that art truly heals the soul.
We began our house painting design by first drawings an X on our paper. Using geometric shapes, students got to work creating their symmetrical designs. Once their lines were drawn, students could choose Ndebele colors to fill in their shapes. We completed our “secrete code” designs by going over our lines with black tempera paint.