Nigerian traditional attire

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(VOVWORLD) - Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is well-known for its numerous tribes and ethnic groups. Yoruba people, one of Nigeria’s biggest ethnic community, have developed a variety of different handicraft products including pottery, weaving, beadwork, metalwork, and mask making. Today we will talk to Laykay Adepoju, a Nigerian who is working in Hanoi, to know more about Yoruba’s traditional attire.

Hoang Tung: Hello Laykay, welcome to VOV’s Culture Rendezvous. First of all, can you name some traditional dresses of Yoruba people?

Laykay Adepoju: Some traditional dresses of Yoruba people are Buba, Elemu Sokoto, Siki, Agbada, and Sapara. There are many of them.

Hoang Tung: What are the meaning of those dresses?

Laykay Adepoju: These are the names given to them without any specific reason known or taught by anybody. One can one can individually get meaning for each by its appearance or the occasion or even pronunciation. For example, “agbada", a very big dress, is meant for old people and great occasion. Siki is short sleeve and smart.

Nigerian traditional attire - ảnh 1 Yoruba man outfit consists four-piece attire, the Sokoto ( a pair of loosely fitted trousers), the Buba, the Agbada ( a massive wide sleeved, wide shouldered flowing robe), and his Fila ( hat). (Photo: Pinterest)

Hoang Tung: What are they mostly made of?

Laykay Adepoju: Cotton. Some are made from linen.

Hoang Tung: What is the most popular color of those dresses?

Laykay Adepoju: I think it’s gold. Some people like to use white.

Hoang Tung: On which occasion will they be used?

Laykay Adepoju: They are just for weddings or big events. For example, if it’s a wedding, where there are usually 2 families, the groom’s and the bride’s. The groom side will pick gold color, and the bride side will pick purple. So when you see someone in purple, or gold, you will know which side they are from.

Hoang Tung: What are the most popular attire for Yoruba men?

Laykay Adepoju: For guys, I think it’s Buba. The most important part is the top. Most of the times, guys will wear jeans and just the Buba. It is about the normal shirt’s length, just a bit below the waist.

Hoang Tung: How about Yoruba women?

Laykay Adepoju: For women, everything is important. But the waist beads are very interesting. The Yorubas in West Africa are known to have the most varied and peculiar reasons for using waist beads. Yoruba waist beads are also called Ileke, Jigida, and Lagidigba. They are worn mainly by females, from the littlest to the oldest.

Nigerian traditional attire - ảnh 2 Iro & Bùbá, with Gele & Ipele blouse, wrapper & headgear (Photo: Pinterest)

Hoang Tung: What are they made of?

Laykay Adepoju: These beads are made from small pieces of glass, nuts, wood, or metal which are pierced, stringed, and threaded together. These beads come in varying degrees of color, length, and even quality.

Hoang Tung: Is there any special meaning of the waist beads?

Laykay Adepoju: They have many meanings, and all the reasons Yoruba wear waist beads are unique. First of all, of course, is for decoration. Secondly, the waist beads can be a symbol of love. They are given to women as a token of love from a suitor, a husband or family. Parents can gift waist beads to their daughters to demonstrate the love and affection they have for them. Waist beads can also be used to attract the opposite gender or served as a spiritual protection.

Nigerian traditional attire - ảnh 3Buba shirt and short baggy pants for men (Photo: Pinterest)

Hoang Tung: Is there anyway that the dresses define the family?

Laykay Adepoju: No. If you are the King or the Queen, maybe you’ll have some special beads. If not, everybody is the same, no matter what you wear.

Hoang Tung: It seems that Yoruba people place a great importance on equality and unity right?

Laykay Adepoju: From where I come from, people are very important about unity, so traditional things serve that purpose. So does dresses. For example, in the name Aso Ebi, Aso means “clothes”, and Ebi means “family”. The idea of “Aso Ebi” is that the dress makes everybody feels like one family. 

Hoang Tung: Thank you Laykay for your interesting stories about Yoruba traditional dresses. We hope to see you again soon on VOV programs.