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Kenya avaKenya doesn't really have a national dress that characterizes traditions, ethnic tastes, culture and rituals of the whole country. Mostly that's because of more than 70 ethnic communities (Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Kamba, Kalenjin, Masai etc.) who live in Kenya. They all have some unique traditions in clothing. Though some clothes and fabrics can be called traditional for Kenya. Let's have a look.

Here are some typically Kenyan pieces of clothing.

Among traditional Kenyan pieces of clothing is "kitenge". It is a cotton fabric heavily embroidered and colored by the method called tie-and-dye (when the fabric is clothed into a tight bundle, and then dyed with various colors). Kitenge is very colorful and bright, so it is popular not only in Kenya but in many other African countries. This dress is not considered to be an official Kenyan clothing, but it is widely popular in this country. People often wear kitenge in ordinary life, for ceremonies and non-official events.

Kenya mara
Women from the Mara region in traditional clothing. Photo from Yourtravelchoice.org

Another part of Kenyan national dress is "khanga". It is a piece of cloth about 1.5 meters (4 ft 11 in) by 1 meter (3 ft 3 in). Its pattern consists of different sayings printed on the fabric. These sayings are in Swahili or English. Women in Kenya wear khanga around the torso and waist.

One of the most well-known in Kenya and around the world tribes called Masai people has its traditional clothing. This dress is also considered to be the national attire of Kenya. The Masaiare dress consists of usually red kanga and a lot of bright decorations: necklaces, bracelets, and bead headdresses. Masai men wear a red-checked Shuka (it is a classic Masai blanket) and carry a distinctive ball-ended club.

Kenya masai
Masai people, Kenya. Typical Masai men's clothing. Photo from Tumblr.com

When to talk about traditional footwear in Kenya we should name the sandals made of natural materials. They're smooth and convenient. Sometimes pieces of motorcycle tires are used as a sole.

Kenyan people wear very short haircuts; they often shave their heads – same men and women. And very often men dye their hair with red ochre. Drawings on a face are very popular, Kenyans do that for ceremonies and other important events.

Kenya Samburu
People from Nilotic tribes in Kenyan national attire. Photo from Paxgaea.com

In general, the traditional dress of Kenya has lots of variants, because almost every tribe has their own idea how the national attire should look. Still, Kenyan national clothing is very bright, colored and heavily decorated.

Kenya
Traditional dress of Kenya. One of the variants. Photo from Tumblr.com

 

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Comments  

#9 Sarah 2017-09-25 17:08
I am researching clothes in Kenya for school. What are the fabrics made out of? Love this website
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#8 pickrat 2017-04-30 06:06
there are many other tribes in kenya, each with its own style of dressing, please post pictures of them too.
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#7 Patricia in Illinois 2017-02-11 11:38
1. What are traditional wedding gifts in Kenya?
2. What garments do the females wear at their wedding?
3. Are there differences in textile motifs worn by men and those worn by women?
I ask because I am considering making a knitted blanket to give to a Kenyan woman living in the United States.
References to images on Pinterest or other image collections would help. Thank you in advance.
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#6 devonna4 2016-05-30 20:07
i really like the way they dress, it just expresses how their feeling the bright colors and the beautiful patterns. Its amazing..
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#5 Sofia 2016-05-07 08:40
Andrew, thanks for your comment. I will do more research on this topic. If you would like to tell us more about Kenyan national clothing, please, do it on our forum. Our readers and I personally would be grateful for that.
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#4 Andrew 2016-05-06 20:58
All this is just from 1 tribe and definitely not the kenyan dress. Kenya has 4wtribes,each with unique dress codes, and has one official dress code,and this is not it. Please do extensive research.
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#3 Sofia 2016-01-05 10:54
We mentioned the source of each photo under it. We didn't make these photos, so we can't give any permissions on their usage. You might try to contact the sources.
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#2 kisukari 2016-01-04 21:20
Can I use this photo to discuss the culture in kenya online?
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#1 Madison Chaperon 2015-07-31 02:16
What is the fabric decorations for the Kenyan clothing?
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Every culture has features and peculiarities, familiar only to the people of this nation. And it’s very interesting to learn about traditional clothing from natives. That’s why if you have something to say about your national costume, please, do it using comments. Tell us things which you know about your country’s cultural heritage. Other people will discover something new for them thanks to you.

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