Nigerian traditional clothing is a great way to express yourself and show your roots. Igbo culture is one of the brightest when it comes to dressing. Find out interesting facts about Igbo attire and its meaning.
Igbo dressing in Nigeria
Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups living in modern Nigeria. It attracts a great deal of attention from Nigerians. It is believed that Igbo Nigerian clothing has ancient origins, yet the truth is that the European colonization of the country has heavily influenced the attire of Igbo you see nowadays. However, traditional clothing is an essential part of Igbo people' rich and fascinating cultural heritage.
The traditional attire of Igbo has a unique look that cannot be mistaken for any other native Nigerian clothing. Though Igbo people who live in the past wore completely different clothing to the people we see today, it doesn't make the modern Igbo attire any less important for them.
All pieces of Igbo attire aren't random. There is meaning behind every single thing that makes them significant. One of the most disputable fragments of Igbo clothing is the traditional red cap. The red color, in this case, symbolizes the pain and suffering Igbo people went through for their community to progress. If you look at the history, you'll also learn that only the most outstanding members of the tribe, mainly chiefs, were considered to be honoured to wear the red cap. In present days, however, red Chief caps are often worn by anyone who likes this style.
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Igbo men traditional wear
There are many facts that are interesting and unique about Igbo men's traditional clothing. The most important are:
- The attire of titled holders and chiefs is different from that of the untitled men.
- The walking stick is a necessary part of the men attire and no traditional Igbo outfit is complete without it.
- Finally, Igbo traditional men's clothing is also adorned with white and red bangles. This accessory is for all the members of that society (both male and female).
The majority of the Igbo men still wear the traditional outfit on a daily basis. Yet, some people prefer to save the beautiful traditional Igbo clothing for special or festive occasions like wedding. Despite how often you'd like to wear the traditional outfit - the main principles for the look remain the same.
The two constant parts of the traditional clothing for Igbo men are the trousers, which are usually not too tight and not too wide, and the shirt, which is called Isiagu. The Isiagu shirt looks very similar to another famous Nigerian piece of clothing, the Dashiki. A traditional Igbo men outfit can be complete with only these two parts, but often Igbo men add an Agbada over the Isiagu. The well decorated and embroidered Agbada is also an ideal choice for a groom who wants to follow the ancient Igbo wedding traditions.
When it comes to fabrics, there is no special fabric designated or created for Igbo men's clothing. Any manner or a variety of clothing can be used as far, as it is printed, embroidered or decorated in the colours and patterns that the Igbo culture permits. The colours include red, white, black, and in some cases clearly distinct patterns, which basically represent the image of an adult lion. Nevertheless, the traditional caps are made only of wool, and it is true whether the caps are meant for the titled members of society or not.
Igbo attire for women
In ancient times, women often carried their babies on their backs with a strip of cloth which was divided in the two with a knot at her chest. But in most cases, Igbo women did not cover their chest areas. The baby-carrying technique is being practiced nowadays by many ethnic groups across Africa along with the Igbo people who still carry their babies this way. This method has been modernized in the form of the child carrier.
Young maidens usually wore a short waist wrapper with colourful beads around the waist and other decorations such as necklaces and beads.
In modern Igbo society, women usually wear a puffed sleeve blouse along with two wrappers and a headscarf. Accessories like necklaces are also worn as a beautiful decoration to the outfit.
We must admit that coral colored beads or Precious Coral Beads are a peculiar element of both Igbo attire for men and women. This type of accessory has come through the history of this tribe and still widely used by Igbo people.
We have already mentioned that previously red cap was worn only by Igbo men who had relation to the chieftaincy, the same can be told about coral beads. In Igbo culture, coral beads are the symbol of royalty or a chieftaincy title. There were even special designs of coral beads that only chiefs wore.
The beads made of coral are not just a decoration, this element has a crucial meaning and is believed to have special powers (ase) to protect from any curse. That is the reason why these beads were worn by chiefs and made them divine and why brides and grooms choose this type of decoration for their wedding attire.
Igbo modern traditional attire expresses a spirit of the people. It's a great choice for everyday or special occasions. We hope our post was interesting and useful for you.
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