- Museum number
Gown (riga). Composed of 80 plain woven narrow strips hand sewn together selvedge to selvedge. The gown consists of two types of narrow strip:
1. dyed pink, blue, black and bleach white warps and dyed black wefts
2. bleached white and dyed yellow warps and bleached white wefts
There is a large oblong pocket covering about 1/3rd of the body panel. The gown is then decorated with extensive embroidery in dyed green cotton forming the two knife pattern. The patterns are geometric in shape and arrangement and can be found around the neck extending to a large spiral on the back of the gown.
- Production date
- 29 November 1969
Length: 148 centimetres
Width: 281 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Voluminous gowns, known as riga, are worn by Muslim men in northern Nigeria, especially among the Hausa and Nupe people. The gowns are notable for their often lavish silk (or cotton) embroidery around the left neck and chest area (over a large pocket) which sometimes continues onto the back of the gown. These elaborate designs, worked by male craftsmen, are named. The most popular and common motif is the 'aska takwas', eight knives. The gowns are composed of narrow strips of cloth, the most prestigious and expensive using silk, sewn together to form this characteristic wide-sleeved garment.
David Heathcote field notes:
'Malam Ibrahim, the Kanuri trader, said that this would have been made only for a beggar or a dogari.'
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- 2008 (8 September)
- Acquisition notes
- This collection was made over a ten year period in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the vendor and collector, Dr David Heathcote, was Head of Art History at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, northern Nigeria. His PhD research focused on the study of Hausa embroidered dress; this collection was formed as a result of his extensive field research.
This gown was purchased for 5 naira (£2.15.0) on 21 March 1970 at the market in the village of Sabon Gari, just outside Zaria.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: C19 (Heathcote collection number)