OriginsAfghanistanNigeriaRussiaGhanaPanamaChinaChinaThe BalkansHungaryJapanJapanPakistanPhilippinesSyriaUkraine

Robe (boubou)

This formation of this large robe contains information about textile making in sub-Saharan Africa. The robe is sewn from 4.5-centimetre woven cotton strips and embroidered with circular symbols. The strips are dyed and pounded with indigo until they take on a metallic sheen.





Where was this textile created?

World map preview image

Nigeria

Robe (boubou)
Africa: West Africa, Nigeria; Tuareg people
c. 1976
Cotton, woven, embroidered, indigo dyed and burnished
295 cm x 152 cm
From the Opekar/ Webster Collection
T94.3009 Textile Museum of Canada



The northern Nigerian technique of constructing robes and veils from narrow strips of cloth is based on a Saharan tradition. Saharan traders use wheels of cotton strips, called dindi or wendi, as a form of currency, and to a degree this robe is also a form of currency. The indigo dye that saturates the robe adds to its value because it stains the wearer’s skin a deep blue.

“How can a simple piece of white cotton cloth end up looking like this? The fact that cotton cloth can end up looking like patent leather is amazing to me. There’s a strength and power in this kind of minimalism.” Judith Fielder, Canadian textile artist






Do an Activity!
Test your knowledge of textiles and discover something new. You have four adventures to choose from.


Make a Mola Paint by Plant Magic Carpet Animal Know How