The public apron (nzenze) is worn by young girls and unmarried women during competition dances between rival villages.
The apron not only enhances the wearer’s appearance but it denotes a value - the value being determined by the amount of beads being worn. Through this it is the boyfriend who assesses how much the girl’s father is worth.
Upon marriage, the girl will give her apron to a maiden in exchange for a goat. Before selling it it is obligatory to remove a part of the apron such as the tying string or a one cent piece to avoid bad luck.
Each apron is hand-woven who threads the beads using boabab (Adansonia digitata) or sisal fibre.
This object is on display at RAMM in the Finders Keepers gallery.