Africa | Man's Robe. Nupe Culture, Nigeria. Cotton, silk | This Nigerian robe of honor is made of saki cloth and is painstakingly embroidered. Saki cloth is a traditional strip-weave indigo fabric. The embroidery depicts the two-knife style particularly popular during the Sokoto Caliphate rule (ca. 1810-1908) in what is now northwestern Nigeria. Today these handmade robes are extremely rare, expensive, and worn only by elderly men.
Africa | Robe. Hausa peoples, Nigeria | Early to late 20th century | Cotton | Although this robe appears plain, it was intended as a display of wealth and status. Skilled craftsmen, laboring intensively, spun thread that was handwoven into narrow strips of cloth that were then sewn together by hand. A Koranic scholar and calligrapher created and laid out a pattern that often took one or two men several months to embroider.