- Museum number
Tunic ("riga yaki" in Hausa language) formed of cotton strips one inch wide sewn together, and covered on both sides with Islamic decorations and painted inscriptions and patterns (such as prayers, Qur'anic inscriptions, 99 Beautiful Names of God, magic squares and amuletic motifs). 51 leather-covered amulets have been sewn to the inside of the upper part of the tunic.
- Production date
- 1880-1920 (perhaps)
Length: 88 centimetres
Width: 91 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Reproduced in John Picton and John Mack, 'African Textiles', BM 1989, p.164 with the following caption: 'Cotton tunic, probably from northern Nigeria, The drawn inscriptions are derived from Koranic texts. Small leather charm cases which probably also contain extracts from the Koran, are attached to the inside of the garment.' On p.163 they describe the process of making a cloth of this type that was commissioned by David Heathcote in 1971 from a Hausa craftsman.
(LaGamma and C. Giuntini, 2008)
‘Every inch of this simple cotton tunic was inscribed and invested with prayers by an itinerant Hausa artist who sought to transform it into a mantle of invulnerability. The extraordinary measures taken suggest that the garment was made for an important warrior to wear into battle. The Islamic belief in the power of the Koran’s written word is manifested here in a creation configured so its Koranic texts encase the body, affording a line of mystical defence superior to armour’ (LaGamma and C. Giuntini, 2008. The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: New York).
Captain Fuller was a collector and must have acquired this tunic on the London market with no provenance. The acquisition register records this as a 'Jibbeh' and from 'West Sudan?'. Later H.J.Braunholz added 'N.Nigeria?'
- On display (G43/dc10)
- Exhibition history
2011-2012, 6 Oct-19 Feb, London, The British Museum, 'Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman', exhibition
2008-2009 Sep-Apr, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design without end
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number