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Yoruba in Nigeria and Diaspora

Rowland Abiodun

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The Yoruba people number well over thirty million from about sixteen ancient kingdoms. They spread all over southwestern Nigeria and extend well into the neighboring countries of Benin and Togo. The Yoruba have been urbanized since the first millennium c.e. and are well known for their fine artistic achievements, especially the naturalistic life-size bronze heads and terra-cotta sculptures of Ile-Ife. In addition to being among the most accomplished carvers in wood and ivory in Africa, the Yoruba

Benin

Joseph C.E. Adande

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The Republic of Benin is bounded in the south by the Atlantic Ocean, in the north by Niger and Burkina Faso, in the east by Nigeria, and in the west by Togo. Thus, it naturally shares both history and culture with the peoples of these neighboring countries. In Benin, clothing, regardless of definition, is as complex and varied as its numerous linguistic groups. In the Benin Republic, Vodun adepts and masquerade performers dress primarily to please their gods and offer them the appropriate manifes

Headdresses and Hairdos

Mary Jo Arnoldi

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Headwear has been an important feature of everyday wear and ceremonial display in Africa from ancient times to the present day. Hats and hairstyles can mark or celebrate changes in the life cycle, denote a person’s status in the community, signal membership in a religious or initiation society, designate key participants at rituals and festivals, or identify political and religious leaders and occupational specialists. Hats designed for daily wear provide pragmatic solutions to the problem of phy

Okpella

Jean M. Borgatti

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Okpella dress as known from the twentieth century includes both everyday wear and dress associated with ritual and festive events, notably clothing associated with men’s and women’s title taking. For men, this includes garments donned during age-group ceremonies, the preliminary event for all subsequent title taking, as well as the apron and feathered crown worn during the Oghalo ceremony, the completion of which admits them into the body of titled elders who, in the past, formed the ruling counc

Yoruba “Uniforms” (Asọ Ebì)

Okechukwu Nwafor

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

In the Yoruba language asọ means “cloth,” while ebì means “family.” Literally, asọ ebì thus translates as “family cloth.” However, asọ ebì, in recent times, also refers to outfits with identical or very similar colors, tailoring, and combinations of garments worn by groups of friends or family members during important ceremonies such as weddings, birthday parties, and naming ceremonies, among others, to distinguish themselves from others. Various cultural and socioeconomic changes attended asọ eb

Asọ Ebì and Fashion Magazines in Nigeria

Okechukwu Nwafor

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Yoruba Crowns

Yomi Ola

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Visually, the Yoruba crown seems a relatively small part of the generally elaborate and colorful Yoruba regalia; however, it highlights a carefully constructed aura of power and glory. Called ade (pronounced AH-DAY) the Yoruba crown is undoubtedly the most significant part of royal dress in mythological, iconographical, metaphorical, and mystical terms. As in most societies with a monarchical political system, the ade is the most visible symbol of a Yoruba ruler’s authority. As an object reflecti

Archaeological Evidence

Fred T. Smith

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

In Africa, the human body has always been a focus for creative expression. Each culture has evolved its own patterns of dress and associated symbolic system, yet cross-cultural influences and change have constantly occurred. A society’s political structure and religious institutions can determine the type of dress used. Societies with a centralized organization often have elaborate, even grandiose programs of visual culture associated with leadership. The ruler or an elite group often reserves th

Cloth and African Identity in Bahia, Brazil

Deborah Valoma

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

The Ilê Aiyê (House of Life) Carnaval of the Afro-Brazilian state of Bahia presents a dramatic fusion of drumming, dance, and song. Spectators are routinely stunned by this three-thousand-strong parade, and its impression is owed in part to its adept manipulation of visual references. Printed cloth is a vital part of its impact, a signature of Ilê Aiyê’s Afro-Brazilian aesthetics. This parade proclaims a shared transatlantic orientation, a collective memory of oppression, and a reclamation of Afr

Cloth and Conversion: Yoruba Textiles and Ecclesiastical Dress

Elisha P. Renne

Source: Undressing Religion. Commitment and Conversion from a Cross-Cultural Perspective 2000

Book chapter

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourself with the new self . . .

Historical Context of Leadership, Trade and Art Patronage

Judith Perani and Norma H. Wolff

Source: Cloth, Dress and Art Patronage in Africa 1999

Book chapter

. . . Accounts of European travellers and merchants . . . mention the preoccupation of the rulers of the various great states with trade . . . Such involvement . . . would have given them access to slaves and superior weapons, as well as control over the distribution of luxury goods to the rural population. These benefits would have been sufficient to enable them to develop hegemonies over the small and mini-state polities of the surrounding countryside. (1976: 258)

Patterns of Production and Consumption in Nineteenth-Century Luxury Cloth Traditions

Judith Perani and Norma H. Wolff

Source: Cloth, Dress and Art Patronage in Africa 1999

Book chapter

We must look closely at the set of relations which existed between and among the various direct producers, those who organized and controlled production, and the ultimate consumers . . . What we really have to consider then, is not just technology but also configurations of production and the ability of different systems [or areas or polities] to adjust and adopt their configurations over time. (Shea 1983: 94–5)

Continuity and Change in Twentieth-Century Cloth Traditions

Judith Perani and Norma H. Wolff

Source: Cloth, Dress and Art Patronage in Africa 1999

Book chapter

The end of the nineteenth century saw the seeds of British colonialism sown in the homelands of the Hausa, Nupe and Yoruba, an event that was to have a far-reaching influence on production and patronage demands for textiles. The Berlin Conference of 1885 convened by the major European powers, ceded the Niger Territory to Great Britain. The British presence was increasingly felt in their efforts to establish control over economic production and trade. The Royal Niger Company, already active in the

The Fashionable World of the Yoruba

Judith Perani and Norma H. Wolff

Source: Cloth, Dress and Art Patronage in Africa 1999

Book chapter

An elite demand depends partly on fashion, partly on political and religious attitudes, and very little on price; indeed, any attempt to reduce prices might prove self-defeating, since part of the demand depends on the expensiveness of the product (1978: 267).

Lantana Beads: Gender Issues in their Production and Use

Ann O’Hear

Source: Beads and Bead Makers. Gender, Material Culture and Meaning 1998

Book chapter

the chroniclers . . . tell of a very special festival of the King of Benin, which they called the ‘Festival of Corals’, on which he lent out chains of red beads which the old historians took to be ‘corals’. I got some of these, which are still considered in Benin to be of great value, and was told that they were a kind of red jasper . . . They are mostly wonderfully cut tubes, with an absolutely magnificent polish . . . in Nupeland . . . I was told that these stones, called Susi or Lantana, were

Becoming a Bunu Bride: Bunu Ethnic Identity and Traditional Marriage Dress

Elisha P. Renne

Source: Dress and Ethnicity. Change Across Space and Time 1995

Book chapter

The Bunu people’s proximity to and historical relations with ethnic groups such as the Nupe, the Ebira, and the Igala who also reside in the confluence area of central Nigeria has led to considerable exchange of ideas, objects, and practices (Obayemi 1980; Picton 1991).For examples of these cultural interchanges, see Picton (1980) on Bunu and Ebira handwoven cloth; Renne (1990: 110) on Nupe and Bunu women’s spirit possession cults (ejinuwon); Renne (forthcoming) on Kiri chiefs’ acquiring chieftai

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