Many West African men, including the Hausa of Nigeria, wear garments decorated with distinctive embroidery. The monochromatic designs on their flowing robes, like the popular “eight knives” pattern seen here, derive from Islamic sources and have symbolic or protective meanings. Even their baggy drawstring trousers, usually hidden under their robes, are covered with multicolored embroidery. See “Threads of Tradition” through January.
“Man’s Robe,” c. 1900–70, made by Hausa culture, Nigeria
“Man’s Robe” (detail), c. 1890–1900, made by Hausa culture, Nigeria (Penn Museum, Philadelphia: Gift of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum (also known as the Philadelphia Civic Center Museum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2003-70-64)