- Museum number
Gown (riga): composed of 74 plain woven natural coloured cotton narrow strips hand sewn together selvedge to selvedge. The neck and pocket which covers about 1/5th of the body of the garment is decorated using embroidery (dyed brown cotton) and cutwork in geometric shapes including circles, triangles and squares. This pattern is known as 'aska biyu' (two knives). There is also a small spiral on the back of the gown. The sleeves are hemmed. The neck and bottom of the garment are unhemmed.
- Production date
- 1973 ((?)purchased by vendor)
Length: 134 centimetres
Width: 235 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.
- 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: C67 (Heathcote collection number)