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Cotton and felt gown (kusaibi)

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Height: 92.000 cm
Length: 180.000 cm

Gift of Henry Christy

AOA 2798

    Cotton and felt gown (kusaibi)

    Malinke people?, 19th century AD
    From Liberia

    This gown is made of narrow indigo-dyed strips with hand-sewn embroidery. It has decorative styles similar to the Hausa gowns of northern Nigeria. Most Hausa embroidery is done by men, particularly on the large rectangular pocket sewn at the front of the gown. A number of geometric combinations are sewn onto the cloth and are in contrast to the background.

    Liberian gowns are characterised by their combination of narrow strips using different patterns, colours and techniques and imported red felt bands applied to the pocket and neck. The dominant motif of five interlocking squares is also used in Hausa embroidery where the design is known as 'five houses'. Patterns using five elements are seen on objects throughout Islamic Africa and derive from the motif khamsa (five) used to deflect the evil eye.

    J. Picton and J. Mack, African textiles-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1989)

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    African designs, £9.99

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