Pathisa explains ancient meanings of Matobo homes designs

The Chronicle

Yvonne Ncube, Showbiz Correspondent

HISTORIAN Pathisa Nyathi has said that the wonderfully crafted homes of Matobo village have been gradually developing, but lack the vital ancient meaning, something he wants to correct through a book he has penned.

 Matobo homes have been captivating tourists and locals in recent years with unique home designs that include chevrons, diamonds, spirals, and traditionally made colours.

 Nyathi has taken it upon himself to document these meanings in a book titled Bhudaza, which is yet to be distributed in bookstores so that the women of Matobo can appreciate what they are doing and conserve culture for future generations.

“The designs that these women are doing now are different from the ones that were done in 2014 and I just thought, why not come up with a book that will interpret all these beautiful designs. These women make these designs, but they don’t know what they mean.

“What’s essential to them is the beauty that they carry, but the meaning behind it is lost. That’s why I’ve written05 this book so that even if we’re not here tomorrow, these historical messages don’t leave with us.

“The women make spirals, but if you are to ask them the meaning behind, they don’t know. They draw circles, diamonds and chevrons; their meanings remain unknown. A chevron for example is very powerful and has a strong ancient meaning. The women need to understand what makes a chevron design beautiful. It could be the rhythm, movement, balance, or equilibrium and all this needs to be taught so that they appreciate what they’re doing. This is aimed at transmitting not just the beauty, but the message as well,” he said.

 He said the growth of this visual art tradition has inspired him to write the book so that the designs are spread with their true meanings.

One of the hand painted homesteads in Matobo

“These visual art forms have seen fundamental growth over the years. The next generation needs to know these things, therefore, they have to be written down so that they aren’t lost. Hence the book comes in to serve this purpose so that culture is not passed unexplained,” said Nyathi.

 “This is a visual art tradition that we hope could be sold to other parts of Zimbabwe so that they learn too. There are aesthetics that have their own characteristics and meanings. The characteristics live on, but the meaning is lost.”

 The designs of the Matobo homes, he said, were adopted from Great Zimbabwe.

“The designs are found in Great Zimbabwe. I’ve heard some people saying the chevron is a snake, but the snake has a head. A chevron doesn’t, so that’s not the true meaning. There’s really so much to be said.

The Great Zimbabwe

“I’ll have three sets of these books that explain these historical meanings, but the one that’s available now is Bhudaza which explains the designs behind the beautiful homes,” said Nyathi.  – @SeehYvonne 

Article Source: The Chronicle

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