Introduction - African ClothingThe African continent is a wonderfully diverse place with an incredible array of people, animals, and places. Traditional African garb is as diverse as the African continent itself. From the loose-fitting outer robe called Djellaba worn by men and women in North Africa to the bright and colorful Madiba shirts worn in South Africa there is an incredible variety of clothes. Archaeologist estimate people in Africa started wearing clothes soon after the first homo sapiens evolved approximately 180,000 years ago. This was probably out of necessity due to the start of the ice age and the need to stay warm. These early clothes were usually made from leather or fur. Over thousands of years African clothing has evolved to where it is today. Most of the clothing is beautiful, rich in color and design, and made from the natural resources available to the people. For more information about African clothing see the lists of facts below; written for kids and adults.
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Materials Used to Make African GarbTraditional African clothing is made from a wide variety of materials some examples are:
- Adire (tie-dye): Made by Yoruba people
- Aso oke fabric: Woven by Yoruba people
- Barkcloth: Made by the Buganda tribe
- Kente cloth: Woven by Ashanti
- Kitenge: Made in Kenya and other East Africa countries
- Mudcloth: Produced by the Bambara tribe
The Making of African ClothingThe making of fabric was usually done by both men and women, with men doing the weaving and women the spinning and dying. Often the various steps of making fabric had spiritual or religious importance. For example the Dogons believed that each stage of the fabric making process is a symbolic analogy to human reproduction and resurrection. The Dogons also believed that the spinning and weaving of clothes should never be done at night, to do so would weave silence and darkness into the cloth.
Popular African Garb ColorsThe following is a list of some of the main colors found in African clothing followed by their meaning to the African people. These are generalizations.
- Gold: Gold is an extremely popular color. It represents wealth and fertility.
- Red: Red represents tension in the spiritual or political world and is viewed as the color of blood.
- Blue: Blue represents love and peace, it symbolizes the sky, and is a harmonious color.
- Green: Green represents prosperity and life and is also a medicinal color.
Types of African ClothingAs mentioned earlier there is an incredible variety of clothing in Africa. Below is a list of some of the clothing types found in Africa.
- Aso Oke hat
- Ethiopian suit
- Ghanaian smock
- Head tie
- Kofia (hat)
- Madiba shirt
- Senegalese kaftan
- Turkish cap