The Capulana in Grief or Magic:- A window at the burial ceremony of her husband wears a capulana to cover her head and face, to "hide her tears". There are even capulanas with white and black patterns to worn as a sign of mourning. But according to painter Malangatana Valente, Who tlaked to us about capulanas in Southern Mozambique, when the woman in the family are getting ready for a funeral ceremony of loved one they buy new capulanas and all dress alike. There is a special capulana , a specific one, that only witch doctors or fortune tellers wear. An ordinary person would not dare wear them, because it would be regarded as a lack of respect, an thinkable behaviour. The Capulana of magic rites has only three colours - white, red and black - it is traditional pattern.
In fact, without detracting from the grace style with which the ladies from southern Mozambique know how to fasten the capulana to waist, you really need to go north, to Nampula, Naacala, Peba or IIha de Mozambique, to see the art and imagination of dress, based on the capulana.
Culturally, giving the gift of capulana, is one of the greatest honours that one individual can behold onto another. If you ever receive a capu-lana as a gift, cherish it. The individual that gave it to you probably took their time in choosing a print or quality that you would be proud to wear or use. Families with a daughter gather trucks and trunks of capulana from relatives and friends over her lifetime, so that when she marries, she can carry with her their experiences, history, and stories.
The simple piece of cotton rectangular fabric has the power to bring joy, promote social status, tell stories, not to mention assist in day-to-day tasks.
Women: Women who have jobs in offices etc. in the cities do wear western dress. However most poorer women and those in the rural areas wear a blouse top and "capulanas" or long material which is tied around the waist. Usually a bandana is worn around their heads.
Capulana, better known as kanga in the rest of East African originated on the coast of East Africa in the early 19th century and has evolved into a symbol of African culture (particularly in Mozambique). The Capulana usually measures 1.35m x 1.80m, and we have seen it used as a skirt/dress, headwrap, a sling to carry babies, and an emergency cloth to clean up after their accidents.
One of the first explanations we came across was that it comes from Ka Polana, which means "place of Chief Polana" , and is today part of the city of Maputo. But since everything suggests that the use of the capolana came from north to south, it is highly unlikely that it would have originated in the South. Even the authur of the Portuguese-Changane dictionary, Bento Sitoi, does not know the origin of the word. But he observes that it isn't used in any other Portugueses-speaking African country, where the word pano (cloth) is simply used. However it is used in Brasil, having canga as a synonym, the Swahili word mentioned above. And so the origin of the word capolana remains a mystery. (...) Ah! So many dead, unknown those who were born later will not cry out in shame bayete-bayete-bayate to the red and green capolana replaced in time kapolanas of various colours. (...) It was in 1954 that Virgilio de Lemos wrote this poem, under the pseudonym Duarte Galvao. He was accused of insulting the Portuguese flags. His lawyer Carloos Adriao Rogriqyues was able to persuade the authorities that to call the flag the capulana verge e vermelha (red and green) was a form of respect bacuse only the mamanas, women of true integrity, wore it.
There is something that sets the capulana worn in Mozambique apart, distinguishing it from the garments coming from the more northerly countries; here, they don't use printed "captions" that are a feature of copulanas from Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania, and on hardly ever sees portraits of political or religious leaders. As Noemia de Sousa wrote in her Poem to Rui de Noronh, on the anniversary of his death. (...) But if you come to me, Poet unarmed and tragic, and I welcome you as a brother in warm capulana of my respect and lull you with the music of sweetest song heard from my black grandmother. (...)
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