Tunic with appliquéd designs



Kom people
Probably 1920s
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General Description

The dominant motif appliquéd on this garment is a double gong, the emblem of a men’s regulatory society. The actual ceremonial gong was made of iron, a precious but mysterious metal believed to be imbued with special powers. During the pre-colonial era, the regulatory society was so powerful it could punish a king for wrongdoing, banish him, or execute him. Now, tunics displaying this emblem are worn by dignitaries at traditional festivals and on ceremonial occasions.

This style of garment is a variation on the Islamic robes that were introduced along with Islam. Originally imported from North Africa, such garments were eventually produced locally by Hausa tailors. The round neckline, lack of a central pocket, and appliquéd and/or embroidered motifs are Kom adaptations of the foreign dress.

Adapted from

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

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