African Tribal Chess Set - Zulu / Ndebele


Celebrate the fierce and respected tribes of Africa in your next chess game with a Large African Tribal Themed Chess set. One of our larger chess sets; it allows for greater detail on every hand painted chess piece. Our outstanding artists have used this opportunity and portrayed the vibrant colours of the mighty Zulu and Ndebele tribes.

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Relive the struggle of two great and powerful ethnic groups battling it out for supremacy. Our chess set will immerse you in the titanic struggle for supremacy between the Zulu and Ndebele tribes that shaped the future of our country. This impressive, larger than normal chess set, helps you see the equally powerful Zulu and Ndebele tribes as they were, in a defining moment in their history;


In the early 19th Century. Two warriors, both of royal bloodline, engaged in a feud that would eventually split the Zulu empire. On the one side you had Shaka Zulu (the Zulu King), who had had his half-brother Sigujana assassinated. On the other side you had Mzilikazi Khumalo, the son of one of Shaka's greatest lieutenants.


Admired by many and feared by all, Shaka swore loyalty to all those who could benefit his tribe while eliminating any rebellion that came his way. Considered a great military tactician in his day, Shaka built his empire on conquest and intimidation. With Shaka, there was only one way, which was his way.


One of these alliances Shaka had struck, was with the Khumalo Clan Chief; Matshobana. Matshobana became an essential part of Shaka’s inner circle and was asked to attack a rouge clan. In the battle, Matshobana was killed, but instead of Shaka repatriating Matshoban’ body back to his tribe for proper burial, he left Matshobana’s body behind. This act of betrayal and dishonor incensed Matshobana’s son Mzilikazi.


Even though Mzilikazi was deeply offended by the insult to his clan and his family, he sought power more than anything and joined the Zulu army. He started moving up in the Zulu ranks to the point where he became a trusted advisor to Shaka. The problem was that Shaka was more famous for ruling with an iron fist than for his generosity and Mzilikazi soon realized that the Zulu king would never give him the honor and status that he felt he deserved.


After coming to the realization that his faith was misplaced in Shaka, Mzilikazi planned to betray the fiercest and most feared African leader of all times.


The plan was simple. Mzilikazi knew that he would be sent out to war with disobedient clans in the future, but instead of him claiming victory in the name of Shaka, he decided to claim the spoils of war for himself. And so events unfolded just as Mzilikazi predicted. Shaka incensed by the disobedience of yet another clan, appointed Mzilikazi to make an example of them and dispatched Mzilikazi and his troops. Mzilikazi fought the battle and won, but instead of paying homage to Shaka, claimed victory for himself and declared himself king of a new tribe that he called the Ndebele.


Outraged by the news Shaka demanded the ritual execution of Mzilikazi and the destruction of the Ndebele tribe. The Zulu’s gathered their forces and marched to the Ndebele’s, hell bent on revenge. But Mzilikazi, was a clever warrior that had intimate knowledge of Zulu battle strategy. When the Zulu’s came for the Ndebele’s, Mzilikazi and his troops were ready for them and defeated the Zulu horde.


The battle however took its toll on Mzilikazi and he realized that Shaka would keep sending more troops until the Ndebeles were wiped out. In order to protect his tribe, he decided that retreat was the only option that would ensure the safety of his people.


So, Mzilikazi fled from Kwazulu Natal. That started a long journey for the Ndebele people who eventually relocated to what is today called Matabeleland (near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe).




The stories told are those of true warriors, meant to inspire and motivate. Embark on a journey as you decide your own fate, play a wonder-filled game of chess, reenacting the glorious battle between the Ndebele and the Zulu’s. Live in the moment of the tribal South Africa in the 19th Century, as you hold in your hand what only a few can.


Our Large African Zulu and Ndebele chess set offers you a unique part of African history and art. Close inspection reveals immense attention to detail with care to portray purely African tribal wear with no western influence. Our carefully handcrafted chess pieces contain every detail of the Zulu and Ndebele cultural wear.







Ndebele chess pieces (light base)
Chess Piece Position Size (large board) Size (small board)
Ndebele Chief chess piece King  110mm 73mm
Ndebele Matron chess piece Queen 108mm 70mm
Zulu Witchdoctor chess piece Bishop 97mm 65mm
Cheetah chess piece Knight 65mm 45mm
Ndebele huts chess piece Castle 60mm 40mm
Ndebele Warrior chess piece Pawn 65mm 40mm
Chess pieces base diameter blank 30mm 20mm
Zulu Chess pieces (dark base)
Chess Piece Position Size (large board) Size (small board)
Zulu Chief chess piece King  110mm 75mm
Zulu Matron chess piece Queen 110mm 70mm
Zulu Witchdoctor chess piece Bishop 100mm 65mm
Lioness chess piece Knight 68mm 40mm
Zulu hut chess piece Castle 50mm 40mm
Zulu Warrior chess piece Pawn 65mm 40mm
Chess pieces base diameter blank 30mm 20mm
Themed Chess board information
Attribute Size (large board) Size (small board)
Chess Board size playing square: 50mm x 50mm 30mm x 30mm
Chess Board material kiaat/ koto/ maple wood kiaat/ koto/ maple wood
Chess Board frame material Ground stone - hand painted Ground stone - hand painted
Chess Boards size 390mm x 390mm 280mmx 285mm
Chess Set Packaged weight 4kg 2kg
Chess Set Packaged dimensions 470mm x 470mm x 110mm 350mm x 355mm x 95mm