Two CDV Photographs - Xhosa Councillors of King Sandile
Two carte-des-visites sized albumen photographs (9 x 6 cms) depicting councillors of Mgolombane Sandile, the king of the Ngqika (western) branch of the Xhosa people. The amaNgqika people bore the brunt of the expansion of both Boer and British settler societies on the Eastern Cape Frontier during the 19th century, and were therefore heavily involved in the Cape Frontier Wars. Sandile himself was involved in the 7th (1846-47) and Eighth (1850-53) Cape Frontier Wars, and eventually committed himself to the 9th (1877-78). During the course of this he was fatally wounded in a skirmish with amaMfengu allies of the British on 29 May 1878. These portraits of his councillors seem to have been taken in the 1860s, and show them wearing traditional Xhosa blankets, their status reflected in the belts of beads slung about them. An engraving based on the bottom photo appeared in the Illustrated London News at the time of the 9th Frontier War; the image above is less well known. Both images are in good, clear condition although there is some slight fading and a small scuff on the top one. Images of Xhosa personalities are generally rarer these days than contemporary studies of Zulu life.