Many African countries and even separate tribes have striking clothing traditions. And the local folk outfits look so unique and special that you can say without any doubt whether it’s an African traditional garment or not. You won’t find such cheerful prints, beaded jewelry pieces, or eye-catching accessories anywhere else in the world. Although, some African folk garments are more classic, typical, distinct than others. Let’s look at just 5 of them and find out more.
Shuka (Maasai people)
It’s a vivid red blanket worn around the body by men and women. This garment is traditional for the Maasai people of Tanzania and Kenya. A shuka can be of practically any shade of red, often plaid patterns are used. It’s a woven cotton blanket that has multiple purposes and is the internationally recognizable symbol of Maasai.
Kanzu (African Great Lakes region)
This piece of clothing is worn by men in many African countries. Basically, it’s a white or cream-colored loose robe, ankle-length, and decorated with just a bit of embroidery or print. A kanzu is the official male garment for special occasions, it’s very popular at weddings, official meetings, celebrations. Also, it’s typical to wear a jacket or even a vest and a suit jacket over the kanzu robe.
Photo from Wikipedia
Isidwaba or isikhakha (Zulu people)
This is a traditional skirt, very popular among married Zulu women in South Africa. It’s made from leather – cow or goat skin – and pleated. The skirt is typically black, bell-shaped, about knee-length, and is worn with colorful beaded and embroidered aprons or belts to add a splash of color. There is a tradition for Zulu brides to get their isidwaba from their fathers during the adulthood ceremony.
This opulent attire originates from the Ewe and Ashanti people of Ghana. Kente can be used by both men and women and it is created in hundreds of patterns. This garment is hand-woven from a mix of cotton and silk. It looks like a large body wrap. The variety of colors and designs is stunning but the African motifs are always distinct in the appearance of a kente. Ghanaian brides and grooms very often dress in kente attire for their wedding.
This garment is probably the most easily recognizable around the planet African piece of clothing. It originated from the Ewe culture as well. Men’s dashiki is typically made in the form of a loose V-neck shirt with a specific African print all over the garment and embroidery around the collar. Women’s dashiki can be sewn in practically any shape and design (dress, shirt, blouse, sundress, wrap, etc), but the print is the same as on male shirts.