What is a Nguni Cow Hide and where does it come from?


Zebra hide is one of the most famous and most gorgeous hides being sold commercially. The black and white stripes have been included – and continue to be – in many interior design projects.

But have you heard of this equally beautiful hide from South Africa? It’s called Nguni hide or Nguni cow hide.

The South African Antique, Art and Design Association (SAADA) considers these hides as exemplary. In fact, SAADA claims that a lot of interior connoisseurs are using Nguni hide because of its durability and range of colors.

In order to further appreciate Nguni hide, allow us to give you a brief history of where they exactly come from and what makes them special.

Nguni Hide Origin
Nguni cattle are native to the Bantu ethnic group from the Southeastern area of Africa, the Nguni people. Included in this group are Ndebele, Swazi, Xhosa, and Zulu.

Back in the day, Nguni cattle was not named differently. Actually, they would name the cattle after the group of Nguni people who breeds it. So, if the Zulu people are breeding the cattle, it would be named “Zulu”; and if the Swazi people are breeding the cattle, they would name it “Swazi.” Different names, same breed of cattle.

Nguni cattle are classified as a Bos Indicus cattle. However, they are also considered as progenitors of the Hamitic Longhorn according to H.H. Curson and R.W Thornton.

Nguni cattle was formerly used as a foundation stock to the Bos Taurus bulls. As such, they were used to provide part of the genetic base to the Bos Taurus Bulls and nothing more. Not until the 1940s when the Nguni cattle was appreciated and its potential realized.

For one, Nguni cattle are naturally immune to endemic diseases. They also have the ability to breed even under harsh conditions. Because of these factors, Nguni cattle was finally recognized as a pure breed in 1983 under the Livestock Improvement Act.

Nguni Characteristics and Uses
Nguni cattle are used for meat and milk production. As a natural byproduct, the hides are used for various aesthetic purposes.

Nguni cattle have thick, pigmented skin that can tolerate heat and light well. The cattle’s coat colors come in different shades such as black, red, brown, white, dun, and cream. They are also characterized by their patterns. The hides have a variety of combinations of shapes and colors that make each one unique.

And as mentioned earlier, Nguni cattle has an excellent resistance to diseases, specifically tick-borne diseases. One reason for such is the smoothness of the hides. Ticks have a hard time attaching to its sleek nature.

The hides are extremely durable and is well-known for its toughness. In fact, it was due to this characteristic that Nguni hides were used as Zulu shields. The hide is one of the materials are used for an iphovela or headdress, too.

Despite its natural toughness, Nguni hide can be turned into a pliable clothing material as well. Nguni people uses it to create their traditional skirt known as isidwaba.

A nguni hide’s versatility extends to the home. Some uses a well-patterned nguni hide as a wall hanging; while others prefer it to decorate their living room or bedroom floor.

No matter how the nguni hide is used, one thing’s for certain, it is built to last.