Posted by Jerry Emeka on Saturday, September 3, 2016 Under: Fashion, Tradition & Culture
Traditionally, the attire of the Igbo generally consisted of little clothing as the purpose of clothing then was to conceal private parts, although elders were fully clothed. Children were usually nude from birth till their adolescence (the time when they were considered to have something to hide) but sometimes ornaments such as beads were worn around the waist for medical reasons. Uli body art was also used to decorate both men and women in the form of lines forming patterns and shapes on the body.
With colonialism and the Westernization of Igbo culture, Western styled clothes such as shirts and trousers over took traditional clothing.
Women carried their babies on their backs with a strip of clothing binding the two with a knot at her chest. This baby carrying technique was and still is practiced by many people groups across Africa along with the Igbo who still carry their babies this way. This method has been modernized in the form of the child carrier. In most cases, Igbo women did not cover their chest areas. Maidens usually wore a short wrapper with beads around their waist with other ornaments such as necklaces and beads. Both men and women wore wrappers.
Males would wear loin cloths that wrapped around their waist and between their legs to be fastened at their back, the type of clothing appropriate for the intense heat as well as jobs such as farming. Men could also tie a wrapper over their loin cloth.
Modern traditional attire
Modern Igbo traditional attire is generally made up, for men, of the Isiagu top which resembles the African Dashiki. Isiagu (or Ishi agu) is usually patterned with lions heads embroidered over the clothing. It can also be plain, (usually black). It is worn with trousers and can be worn with either a traditional title holders hat (a fez named okpu agu or agwu), or with the traditional Igbo stripped men's hat (which resembles the Bobble hat). For women, an embodied puffed sleeve blouse (influenced by European attire) along with two wrappers (usually modern Hollandis material) and a head scarf are worn.
The Isiagu, also called Chieftaincy, is a pullover shirt similar to the dashiki that is worn by Igbo people. It is usually worn on special occasions like weddings. The shirt may be long or short sleeved. Some shirts have gold buttons that are linked by a chain. There is usually a breast pocket on the front. Traditionally, the Isiagu was given to a man when he received a chieftaincy title. The shirt is usually worn with a red fez hat or the Igbo leopard cap. The leopard cap is known as Okpu Agu in the Igbo language.
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