ring, noun1

Origin:
EnglishShow more Special sense of general English.
head-ring.
1833 Graham’s Town Jrnl 15 Aug. 3This late Zoola attack on these tribes, was for the purpose of taking cattle to obtain the sinews, or Caffer thread, to sew rings on the heads of several of the junior Regiments.
1835 A. Smith Diary (1940) II. 131The old ring-kop was speaking...This ring-kop was the person in charge of the party...None of the others had rings.
1837 F. Owen Diary (1926) 61One whole regiment of..young men, who have not a ring on their head, were summoned to exhibit their skill and energy in military exercises.
1855 J.W. Colenso Ten Weeks in Natal 126Many of the Kafirs now around us had the ring upon their head, which forms the peculiar distinction of a Zulu married man. The hair..is first tied or stitched into a ring, made of sedge. Then having obtained..a white gummy substance..they roll it between their hands, until it becomes of sufficient length to be laid over the sedge ring, and completely cover the stitches. By the aid of grease and rubbing, the ring is made to take an excellent polish, and its upper surface..has the appearance of solid leather.
1870 C. Hamilton Life & Sport in S.-E. Afr. 13The ring is considered a mark of honour and distinction; ‘Indunas’, or ministers or the chief, generally wear three or four.
1882 C. Du Val With Show through Sn Afr. I. 246A stalwart old party — with little clothing but the ring on his head which indicated matrimony.
1925 D. Kidd Essential Kafir 33Only married men were allowed to wear this ring, and when once they are allowed to adopt it they feel important, for they are regarded as warriors of the nation and are consulted more or less in tribal concerns.
1937 C. Birkby Zulu Journey 121His woolly hair had been worked into a ring with gum and beeswax as a sign of his standing among the tribe.
1960 G. Lister Reminisc. 75He was..clad in a huge skin mantle and had a hard ring round his head and great ivory bangles on his arms.
head-ring.
Derivatives:
Hence ring transitive verb, to bestow the head-ring upon (someone).
1967 E.M. Slatter My Leaves Are Green 180Then, for a reward, Mpande told me that I would be ‘ringed’, young though I was. And, then I had permission to marry.
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18331967

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