Man's Robe (agbada)
DateEarly 20th century
MediumStrip-woven cotton, cotton embroidery, indigo dyes
DimensionsWork : 4 ft. 5 in. x 7 ft. 7 in. (1.3 x 2.3 m)
Credit LineHope College Collection
LabelClothing functioned as an important marker of status and identity in traditional Yoruba culture. This voluminous robe would have been worn by a socially prominent man at public events such as weddings, funerals and religious festivals. Its trapezoidal shape gives the wearer a large profile and conveys a sense of physical power. The garment was made by stitching together narrow strips of hand-woven, indigo-dyed cloth (aso oke). Such cloth was typically woven by men and dyed by women, and was used by both genders to make clothing, blankets, burial shrouds and other forms of textiles. The manufacture of indigenous Yoruba textiles continued well into the 20th century, but production levels have declined steadily in recent decades as a result of competition from mass-produced factory textiles and changing clothing fashions.