Dolosse refer to the crude toys of bone used by children since the 1830’s to imitate a team of oxen pulling a wagon.
Dolosse were actually the knucklebones of sheep, cattle and goats, and with a little imagination looked quite similar in shape to oxen with their sharp horns in front and rounded buttocks. These ‘oxen’ were arranged in front of a wagon – usually the lower jaw of an ox or horse, hence the name “kakebeenwa” – and manually moved forward in a realistic mimicry of a team of oxen pulling a wagon. These dollosse were often given the same names as the boy’s father’s draught oxen, and so from an early age boys learnt how to span in oxen and handle a wagon.
The word dolos is presumably derived from the Xhosa word idolo meaning “knee”.
Photo credit: National Museum