Friday, 11 January 2013

A fine Wodaabe ceremonial tunic, Niger


Superb ceremonial tunic from the Wodaabe people of Niger. The Wodaabe are a nomadic cattle herding branch of the Fulani (or in French, Peul) people who are widely distributed across the Sahel of West Africa. The Wodaabe are well known for their spectacular annual ceremonies in which young men wearing thick face makeup dance in a row displaying their beauty to admiring women from the rival clan. These tunics are open-sided and worn over a plain leather wrapped skirt. More recent examples are usually made from cheaper imported cloth and embroidered in harsher colours, but this piece, dating from around 1960-70 is a great exemplar of a style that is now becoming very hard to collect. The designs, which include motifs alluding to aspects of nomadic life such as the layout of camps, are hand embroidered on a strip woven cloth ground. On this piece it is made up of the most expensive and most prestigious strip cloth - very narrow width strips woven by Hausa weavers in the vicinity of Kano in Nigeria specifically for sale to the desert peoples to their north such as the Tuareg and Wodaabe. A distinctive feature of this tunic is the central red stripe embroidered with a different design. Condition excellent. Measurement: 17 inches (plus 18 "sleeves") x 52 inches, 44 cm (plus 46 "sleeves")x 133 cm.



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