Traditional African culture, clothing and artefacts fuelled the thrilling Black Panther film and its sensational Afrofuturist designs.
Zulu Hat, South Africa
In Black Panther, the quintessential Queen of Wakanda boasts a magnificent headdress inspired by an isicholo hat worn by married Zulu women from South Africa. The film’s 3D-printed version remains a major
Benin Armlet, Benin
David Ballam, Photographer
THE FEMALE WARRIORS
Centuries ago, the West African nation of Benin was known as the Dahomey Kingdom and famous for their feared female soldiers. The elite, spear-fighting female warriors in Black Panther – the Dora Milaje – are fittingly based on them plus their
spectacular uniforms were inspired by various African relics and garments.
Traditional Maasai Shuka garments from Northwest Kenya influenced their predominantly red uniforms, while the striking gold stacked rings that adorn their necks were inspired by women of the Ndebele tribe of South Africa. Various armlets, created through
a lost wax method of casting, can still be found in West Africa and similar-looking spears exist in Kenya.
CLOAKS AND CLOTHS
Stunning textiles played special roles in the inspiring Black Panther film. The beautiful blanket cloaksworn by Wakanda’s border tribe resemble the traditional, famous garments of the Basotho people in Lesotho. The king of Wakanda is also shown
with a Kente scarf from Ghana, traditionally reserved for royals and special occasions.
African masks are one of the most recognised and interesting artefacts from the continent. An awesome variety is revealed in the scene where supervillain Erik Killmonger steals a mask from a London museum. This menacing mask is reminiscent of a Mgbedike
mask of Igbo origins in Southeast Nigeria.
Next-level body modification also had its place in the Black Panther film. The large lip plate worn by a male Wakandan elder is a cultural feature of the Mursi women in Ethiopia while the unmissable scars on the film’s supervillain were inspired
by certain tribes in Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda who create markings for various cultural reasons.
In Black Panther, Wakanda’s King T'Challa wears a claw necklace synonymous with power and royalty, throughout Africa, tribal chiefs wear ornate necklaces to showcase convey status and authority.
Come discover our trove of African artefacts or get in touch with our team for assistance.
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