IntroductionTraditional attire of the Somali people is very diverse for both men and women. The garb worn by these people of Africa is influenced by such factors as religion, age, region, and the occasion the person is wearing clothes for. This page provides information about Somali traditional clothing. Below is a list of interesting facts about the traditional clothing worn by these people. This information includes what types of clothing are worn, and why certain types are worn.
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Somali Traditional Clothing Facts - General
- The diversity of clothing styles in Somalia is partially due to the country's location along an international trade route.
- The style of garb of the Somali people is influenced by where they live. The majority of Somali people live in Somalia, however there also many who live in Ethiopia. There are smaller concentrations of these people in Yemen, Kenya, Djibouti, and in many other parts of the Middle East and the world.
- Many parts of Somalia are Islamic. This has a strong influence on the dress codes in those areas.
- Most Somalis, especially the young and those living in cities and urban areas, will wear Western dress for everyday living, such as jeans and t-shirts, but will wear traditional clothing for special occasions.
- Traditional garb is more prevalent in the rural areas of the country.
Somali Traditional Clothing for Men Facts
- An outfit commonly worn by Somali men is a white cotton sheet wrapped around them as a skirt and another white piece used as a shawl.
- A sarong-like garment, worn around the waist, called a macawiis is typically worn by most Somali men.
- some Somali men wear a long ankle-length garment called a khameez.
- Many Somali men wear a colorful turban or an embroidered cap known as koofiyad on their head.
- Some men, mainly in the upper class, wear suits and neckties in order to look more western and modern. This is also common garb for Somali business people.
Somali Traditional Clothing for Women Facts
- Schoolgirls in Somalia generally wear shirts and trousers.
- Women never wear anything revealing and their garments generally have very conservative colors.
- Most Somali women wear full-length dresses that come in a variety of styles.
- For day-to-day activities, women in Somalia generally wear a guntiino. A guntiino is a long piece of cloth which is tied over the shoulder and draped around the woman’s waist.
- For formal events like weddings and religious celebrations, women commonly wear a dirac. A dirac is a long dress usually made of 100 percent cotton or cotton blends including linen or polyester. This dress is worn over a slip and a brassiere.
- Traditionally a married woman will wear a scarf on her head. This scarf is called a shash.
- Many of the more conservative women wear veils.
- Conservative women will also often wear a jilbab which covers the entire body, except for head and hands. The head would then be covered by a scarf or sometimes a wrap.
- Some conservative Muslim women, in keeping with their Islamic beliefs, wear a burqa in public which is a garment that covers their entire body from head to foot.