One of the most common forms of traditional figure representation in southern Africa is the child figure These were, and sometimes still are, made for young women, or made by the young women themselves, when they reach puberty, or before they get married.
The presence of the child figure confirms that its 'mother' has been fully prepared, through initiation and discussions with her older female relatives, about her roles in marriage. It is an enigmatic figure because it both represents the 'wished for child' and the mature woman, with her earrings, skirt and other accessories.
The Tsonga-Shangaan doll consists of two parts: a cylindrical form, often shaped over large jam tins, and a skirt. The cylinder is covered in beads in the colours and designs found in other Tsonga-Shangaan beadwork - predominantly white, with orange, green, blue and red. The beads that cover the cylinder form patterns of stripes , chevrons, diamonds and triangles. A pleated skirt is attached to the cylindrical body of the child figure. These are miniature versions of skirts worn by adult women.
From exhibition guide to Dungamanzi, Johannesburg Art Gallery, May - August 2007).