CAPULANAS

Maputo, Mozambique, 2019.

Mozambique is a country that is undergoing an important transition from a rural to an urban condition, a land still very rich in cultural expressions and traditional knowledge deeply connected to the environment and nature. The rurality of the country is reflected in everything: from the conception of time, to nutrition, to costume.

 

Regarding the costume, there is a particularly important element: the Capulana. Also present in some other African states, it consists in a stole of about 1mx2m used as skirt, baby carrier for children, bag, cloth to cover and shelter, curtain, tablecloth and many other uses: it is an item that every time is reinvented and that, as tradition dictates, every woman must always have in her bag. 

 

The Capulana is wore with pride and gives great self-esteem and elegance to the Mozambican women who wear and use it.

 

It is an object mainly associated to women but not for their exclusive use. It is symbolic of the local culture, with traditional geometries and designs encompassing a variety of colors and shades.

 

The photographic project includes 18 portraits of ladies met in Maputo that consented to be interviewed and to pose for a picture wearing their Capulana, showing and valorizing their local cultural identity. From the oldest to the youngest, the ways of wearing it are different, as well as different are the reasons, from formal modesty, to comfort, to elegance. These ladies, subjects of the portraits, were met in their daily routine, interviewed on the street and photographed in their context. 

 

In the transition from a rural to an urban country, many of the traditional knowledge and cultural expressions of the rural world risk to be lost, even though they are powerful resources for the environment. Probably the Capulana will soon be abandoned to be replaced by the clothes of the major low-cost clothing chains, representing the imaginary of richer countries and aspirations of wealth. 

 

The photographic research project recognizes the Capulana’s cultural value in Mozambique and documents it, to enhance and protect it as an element of the local cultural heritage.

 

The photographs were taken in November 2019 in the popular residential districts of Maputo: Maxaquene A, Maxaquene B, Maxaquene C and Urbanização.