AGB123 - To understand this important nineteenth century Yoruba robe we have to think back to a time when industrial thread was a rare luxury import in many parts in the region. One of the very highest status and most luxurious of these prestige robes for the wealthiest chiefs was that woven from magenta coloured "alaari" silk that reached Nigeria from the north of Africa via the trans-Saharan caravan trade. These "red" silk robes were almost always decorated with green embroidery - I had a fine example until recently (photo on request.)
At the same period in the second half of the nineteenth century small quantities of industrial thread from Europe became available, both from the trans-Saharan trade and from European merchants who were establishing themselves in growing numbers on the coast. In a context of competitive dress display in which wealthy men competed in prestige attire to display novel and luxurious variations we can imagine a robe such as this - an "alaari" robe but in the new, slightly different and for the time being even rarer, type of "red" being exceptionally highly prized. The only other early red cotton robe I know of is in the British Museum and was collected in the 1860s. Dates from late C19th. Condition: excellent. Measurement: 113 inches x 53 ins, 287cm x 135cm. PRICE: Email for price.
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