Capulana

Tradition and art of Mozambican women

By Virtual Museum of Lusophony

Capulana uniform (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Capulana is the name given, in Mozambique, to a cloth that is traditionally used by women

Portrait woman with capulana (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

The richness of colors and motifs is a characteristic of the cultural and artistic wealth of the country.

Woman with capulana (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Mozambican woman (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Women use the capulana in their day-to-day to cover the body and sometimes the head. Its use also goes far beyond fashion: the fabric is used by women to carry backpacks, and for numerous functions, such as towel, curtain, table cloth.

Capulana to carry the baby (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony


With the capulana, the first child is also carried on the back.

Woman ready for her daily activities (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

The harvest of the year is loaded.

Portrait Mozambican woman (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony


They are still preserved and passed from one generation to the next and with them the stories of the women who own them.

Dance with the capulana (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

And are used at parties to dance.

Women group (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Capulana on the waist (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony


Generally used in ceremonies of great importance, older women tie the capulana, or “mucume ni vemba” (a special capulana, with the size of three of the fabrics, decorated with white lace), this serves to demonstrate that the woman is an adult and housewife.

Capulana on the waist - first tie (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

The affection and care with which women treat this fabric is special. This is the first step to wear the capulana.

Capulana on the waist - second tie (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

This is the second step to wear the capulana.

Capulana on the waist - finishing (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

This is the third step to wear the capulana.

Nothern Mozambican women (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony


The capulana is present in the moments of joy and in the less joyful moments, it is part of the life of the African woman.

Nothern Mozambican women (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Woman with capulana (21th Century) by Yassmin ForteVirtual Museum of Lusophony

In other countries it is known as:
"Pano" - Angola
"Kitenge" - Zambia 
"Chitengue" - Namibia
"Canga"- Brazil.

Credits: Story

Photography and concept: Yassmin Forte
*Yassmin Forte was born in Quelimane (Zambézia) in 1980, and lives in Maputo since 1986. She has a bachelor's degree in Communication Sciences, Public Relations and Journalism at the Instituto Superior Politécnico e Universitário (ISPU) in Maputo. She held six solo expositions, attended ten collective exhibitions and was the curator of seven expositions and contests. She also won several awards, like "Inclusion in Diversity", in Portugal, and The Mozal Award for Arts and Culture, in Mozambique. 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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