Ancient Egyptian writings, £9.95
Width: 184.000 cm
Africa, Oceania, Americas
Cotton dress with elaborate embroidery (asherah nahuak)
Berber peoples, late 20th century
From Siwa Oasis, Egypt
The 'white dress'
Marriage celebrations create a specific need for particular items of clothing and other textiles, whether newly made, inherited or borrowed by the family of the bride or groom. In North African society a man is expected to provide material support for his wife and children. Gifts of clothing supplied before the marriage either as part of the dowry or as presents demonstrate his commitment to his new role as husband and father.
Marriage ceremonies in North Africa follow similar patterns. The main focus is the 'night of entering' (lailat al-dukhla) when the marriage is consummated and the transition from adolescence to adulthood is recognized. A few days before the wedding day the contributions from both families - clothing, jewellery and furniture - are displayed and paraded through the village or neighbourhood accompanied by musicians hired by the bride's family.
nahuak, is worn by the bride on the third day
of the wedding celebrations, when she receives her parents and
family for the first time in her new home. The silk thread
decoration is said to represent the colours of ripening dates.
Throughout North Africa dates are offered at wedding receptions to
ensure fertility of the bride and groom. In Siwa, dates are a major
cash crop and thus signify economic stability and wealth. The
colours of the thread, red, yellow and orange may also be
associated with the sun, as Siwa has a well-documented link with
the ancient Egyptian sun god,
C.J. Spring and J. Hudson, North African textiles (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)