Tswana Traditional Attire

Tswana traditional attire is usually made of shweshwe cloth. Young girls wear a skirt called a ‘Makgabe’ which is made of small Tswana beads. 

Women wear shweshwe dresses and shirts made out of a fabric called ‘Toishi’ which is usually blue in colour. Explore dresses below👇🏾

During traditional baby showers, mother sikiti wear mogagolwane, a checkerboard small blanket. It is also worn by married women during traditional weddings and various initiation ceremonies, as well as at funerals by Batswana women.

The Tswana or Setswana people are rich in culture and heritage. One of the ways this is expressed is through their clothing, most notably Tswana traditional dresses.

Over the preceding decades styles and designs have adapted to suit more modern tastes, but the tribal essence has still remained within the DNA of Tswana traditional attire.

tswana traditional attire
Tswana Traditional Attire

Types of Tswana Traditional Attire

Tswana traditional attire consists mostly of different shades blue but can also include other colours. Tswana traditional dresses have been worn for thousands of years, with their designs symbolising Tswana culture and history.

Classic Dresses

Below you’ll find pictures of an array of Tswana traditional dresses, mostly in the colour blue, which is the defacto Tswana cultural colour.

blue tswana traditional dresses
Tswana Blue Dresses
turquoise summer dress
Turquoise Summer Dress
brown and blue tswana dress
Brown and Blue
dark and light blue tswana dress
Dark and Light Blue
tswana blue print
Tswana Blue Print
tswana traditional dresses in blue
Blue and Yellow

Tswana Traditional Wedding Dresses

Below you’ll find an assortment of beautiful Tswana traditional wedding dresses. These wedding dresses can suit a variety of different occasions, from very formal wedding to more nonchalant ceremonies.

stylish tswana attire
Wedding Party
red tswana traditional wedding dress
Red Tswana Wedding Dress
tswana traditional wedding dresses in red
Long Red Wedding Dress
tswana traditional wedding dresses
Tswana Bride and Groom
tswana wedding dress
Shaped Tswana Wedding Dress
wedding dress tswana
Visual Elegance
glamorous tswana dress
Designer Tswana Dress

Tswana Ethnography

The Batswana (Tswana), are an African ethnic group who live in Southern Africa. The Tswana language is a member of the Sotho-Tswane language family. In 2011, ethnic Tswanas made up about 85% of Botswana’s population.

Batswana are the original inhabitants of southern and eastern Botswana, as well as Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape, and Free State in South Africa. The majority of Batswana live in these areas.

Tswana History

The Batswana, like most people in Southern Africa, are descendants of Bantu-speaking peoples who travelled southward from Angola and Mozambique around 600 AD and established tribal enclaves as farmers and herders. The Toutswemogala Hill Iron Age settlement was founded in the 9th century AD.

The country name Botswana comes from the Tswana people, who are known as Basotho in English. The majority of Botswana’s population speak Setswana.

All have a traditional Paramount Chief, known as Kgosikgolo, who is entitled to a seat in Parliament’s Ntlo ya Dikgosi (an advisory council to the government).

The Tswana dynasties are all related. A Motswana person lives in Botswana, and the plural is Batswana. During the 17th century, the three major branches of the Tswana tribe emerged.

The first king, named Mhlope or Molepolole, led a large group of people from the area now known as Northern Transvaal to Molepolos. There are three brothers called Kwena, Ngwaketse, and Ngwato who broke away from their father Chief Malope in Molepolole to form their own communities.

tswana dancers
Tswana Dancers

Tswana in South Africa

The largest number of ethnic Tswana people lives in modern-day South Africa. They are one of the major ethnic groups in South Africa, and the Tswana language is one of 11 official languages in the country.

Between 4 and 5 million Tswana people live in Botswana, with the North West Province accounting for around two-thirds of them.

During the Apartheid era, South African Tswana people were designated by the Apartheid regime as Bophuthatswana citizens of one of ten bantustans established for the express purpose of defending apartheid legislation.

Setswana Food

Cornmeal gruel, known as pap in many parts of Africa, is a basic meal that is often eaten with meat or vegetables. Borotho is a bread made from a variety of flours. Ting is the most common sorghum porridge available.

Bogobe jwa Logala/Sengana is a traditional Setswana meal made from sorghum porridge that has been prepared with milk. Seswaa is Botswana’s national dish, which is often served at weddings, funerals, and other events.

Seswaa is a dish made out of pounded or shredded beef and commonly served with Bogobe (porridge). Madila is a sour cultured milk produced from cow and goat milk over time until fully mature for consumption.

Traditionally, madila were made in Lekuka, a leather bag or bag used in the production and preservation of madila. Madila is also traditionally eaten as a relish with pap. It may also be used to make mild porridge with a sour and milky flavor by adding Motogo to the soft porridge.

tswana food
Tswana Food

Tswana Music

The music of the Tswana people are largely vocal, although they may also be played without drums depending on the situation.

The instruments used in Tswana traditional music include Setinkane (a Botswana variant of the piano), Segankure/Segaba (a Botswana variant of the Erhu), Moropa, and phala.

Botswana’s cultural musical instruments extend far beyond the strings and drums. The hands are also utilized as musical instruments, either clapping them together or against phathisi (goat skin turned inside out wrapped around the calf area; it is only used by men) to generate music and rhythm.

The guitar has been revered as a versatile music instrument for Tswana music because it includes a wider range of strings, which the Segaba does not. Other popular contemporary Tswana songs include Tswana Rap, often known as Motswako.

Tswana Art

Batswana are famous for their basket-making skills, which include using Mokola Palm and local dyes. Baskets are typically made of three different materials: wire mesh, twigs, and rice straw.

Lidded baskets used for storage are the most popular. Large open baskets for transporting items on the head or for winnowing threshed grain are also popular. Small plates designed for winnowing pounded grain are unusual.

Clay pots were used to store water, store beer, and cook in, but they were rarely employed for commercial purposes. Traditional wooden furniture and drums were among the products produced by craftspeople.

tswana art
Tswana Basket Making

Tswana Astronomy

Astronomy is an ancient African pastime. As with all other civilizations, various ethnic groups have fashioned their own views of the solar system. Batswana have used their natural instrument, the eye, to observe, discuss, and name heavenly bodies of interest to them since time immemorial.

There are numerous more descriptive and distinct names for each distinctive stellar pattern and its seasonal change, such as Selemela, Naka, Thutlwa, and Dikolojwane.

The stars of Orion’s Sword, according to Tswana mythology, were “dintsa le Dikolobe,” three dogs chasing three pigs from Orion’s Belt.

The Tswana saw the Milky Way as Molalatladi, the resting place of lightning. It was also thought that this location of repose prevented the sky from collapsing and demonstrated time’s passage.

The sun purportedly turned to the east, in order to explain why the sun rises. It was also perceived that it was a supernatural path across the sky along which ancestral spirits traveled.

The moon (Ngwedi) is regarded as a woman in the Zulu mythology; it produces light, but not the same heat as the Sun (Letsatsi), and its illumination is linked with pleasure. Batswana refer to Venus as Mphatlalatsana (the brilliant and blinding one), while Kopadilal

The southern African calendar was created up of 354 days (12 × 29.5-day lunar month), which was 11 days shorter than the solar year. Because this was an issue that could not be overlooked, an additional month had to be added when necessary in order to “catch up.”

Some years were 12 months long, while others were 13. The Batswana people began to forget the name of the thirteenth month after Europeans and the introduction of the Gregorian calendar.

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