There are different ways in which one can become aware of different cultural symbols and their values. On occasion this awareness might be in a quite simple form but which could lead to a greater informed interest.

Philately, the study and collecting of postage stamps, is one such form. In September 2013 the South African Post Office issued a set of ten stamps depicting this theme.


THE BLOMBOS OCHRE is thought to be the earliest design of a South African symbol and was found on the Cape south coast in 2000. It is said that the engravings represent the “earliest symbolic behavior of human beings.”

The NWANA SYMBOL of fertility suggests that young women are ready for marriage.

The headrest AMASUMPA has carved patterns on it which may hint at wealth.  Unity is reflected by the UKHAMBA ceremonial beer container.

SHELL BEADS,  said to be 75,000 years old, were for ornamental usage.

STARBURST ENGRAVING is from the ”later stone age”  and connected with woman hood.

RHINO ENGRAVINGS  reflect “rain and abundance.”

The PHALAPHALA Horn was used for the purpose of communication.

NGWENYA , a crocodile in a pool, was a way traditional healers helped to identify whether a death had been  caused by witchcraft.

The LITSHOBAMHLOPE was a ritual whisk used to indicate a special status in the community.        Setempe  vol. 18 No 3