Skirt (lawo butu)

Ngadha peoples (also spelled Ngada)
19th–early 20th century
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General Description

This skirt (lawo butu) offsets an ikat panel of ancestral figures and horses with beadwork that includes sun-like medallions, chickens or roosters, scorpions, and figures with upraised arms. Although the precise meaning of these motifs is no longer known, the orange colored beads (ana heda) found on lawo buta are said to be ancient, came from India, and were of great value in former times.

Lawo butu are worn by unmarried noble women during the mure rain dance, and by high-ranking married women during the ritual renewal of houses. They are potent heirlooms that were once thought to influence climatic conditions, thus insuring prosperity and good harvests.

Excerpt from

Roslyn Adele Walker, Ph.D., Senior Curator, The Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific, The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art, June 2013