This is a Linga Kobe doll, made by the Ndebele tribe in South Africa, 1980's. The Ndebele are one of the smallest tribes in South Africa, but are known for the colorful designs of their buildings and the handmade dolls which are an essential part of their culture.
Every four years, adolescent boys of the Ndebele tribe spend two winter months in a secret place in the mountains undergoing an initiation into manhood. While the boys are away, their mothers wear linga kobe, which means "long tears". These are strips of intricate beadwork that stretch from their headdresses. These tears represent the sorrow of losing a boy, and the joy of gaining a man.
The figure is 18" high, 6" at the widest point. It stands without a support. The main body is a stuffed stockinette material, and the figure wears a felt cape and leatherette skirt or kilt. There is extensive beadwork on the head, shawl and front apron piece. The legs are wrapped in silver-tone wire, and there are turquoise glass beaded cuffs at the ankles. It has been displayed in a glass case and is in excellent condition.