Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Wodaabe Men’s Festival Attire, Niger.


Photo taken from the book “Nomads who cultivate beauty” by Mette Bovin (Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2001) in my view the most interesting of many books on the Wodaabe nomads of Niger. Bovon notes that this picture was taken in 1975 by a local photographer Yacoubou in Diffa. She noted – ‘Young men nowadays laugh when they see this photo, and comment “How old-fashioned they look, the mirrors are too big and hanging too low. Our fashion today is much smarter, more chic. But look, all three men’s faces are pretty.”’


AGB110 - Fine example of a open-sided hand embroidered tunic of a type worn by young men of the nomadic Wodaabe people of Niger for certain important ceremonial occasions. The embroidery patterns are named after aspects of nomadic lifestyle such as the layout of the camp site, and are executed on a backing cloth of very narrow (1cm) width strip woven cloth, the most expensive and prestigious fabric available. It was woven by Hausa weavers in the vicinity of Kano in northern Nigeria for sale to the nomadic peoples of the Sahel and Sahara to the north.


The tunics were worn over a skirt fashioned from a wrapped goat skin and were adorned with hanging jewellery and other finery in an effort to draw the eye as the man danced in a row among the other young men of his clan. See the photgraph at the foot of this page taken from the book “Nomads who cultivate beauty” by Mette Bovin (Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2001). A notable feature of this example is the asymmetric layout of the embroidery on the reverse of the robe. Wodaabe tunic of this quality are now becoming rather hard to source and increasingly rare. Condition: excellent. Age: circa mid C20th. Measures: 67 inches x 18 (+ arms), 170cm x 46. PRICE: US$2175.


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