Robe for a dignitary (boubou lomasa)



Soninke peoples
Late 19th–early 20th century
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General Description

The long, flowing form of this robe and its vast sleeves are typical of prestigious boubous worn by high-ranking Muslim and non-Muslim men throughout West Africa; however, the rectangular neckline, indigo-dyed cotton fabric, and elaborate embroidered designs mark it as a boubou lomasa, distinctive to the Soninke peoples of Mali. The unfolding spiral across the chest embroidered with brightly colored silk thread, two spirals on the back, and a dense braid-like center are specific to this type. Minuscule holes surrounded by and stabilized by tiny stitches occur at the perimeter of the design areas, where they provide visual transition between the bold embroidered shapes and the plain background.

Adapted from

  • Roslyn A. Walker, Add To, Take Away: Artistry and Innovation in African Textiles, Label text, 2014.

  • Carol Griffin, DMA unpublished material, 2009.

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