Nomvimibi Msweli is representing the Zulu Queen. Her figure is seen seated on a small ceremonial stool, and as in the tradition of married Zulu women, she wears a decorated covering over her breasts, and a heavy hide strip skirt.
A Zulu man was not usually allowed to take a wife (Inkozikasi) until he was considered responsible, this was normally measured by the number of cattle that he owned. Cattle were the common currency used when purchasing a wife. An average man would have three or four wives, while a chief may have twenty or more.
Nomvimibi Msweli was King Cetshwayo’s first wife, she was a commoner at the time of their marriage, and was not given the status of Great Wife. The title Great Wife, was generally bestowed upon a selected wife who was often taken for dynastic reasons. She would be one of the many wives that the King was allowed to take. It did not always follow that the first wife was the Great Wife, but as Msweli bore the King his only son and heir, Dinuzulu, in 1868, she was known as the King’s Great Wife.