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What did Nigerians wear in the old days?

What did Nigerians really wear in the old days? Ever felt uncertain about the past? Before the onset of colonialism and industrialisation, Nigeria was diversified and scattered into tribes from the north, south, east and west. Culture and fashion changes and evolves according to time and need. It is possible that the cultural attire we used to know is not actually what our ancestors regarded as their dressing. Did our people wear the popular blouse, iro and Nina, kaftan, gele, wrapper and aso oke? I really don’t think so because there weren’t any fabric industry or machines to sew during that time. We probably would have been wearing leaves and animal skin or not. Well, let’s find out.

Humans and Clothes

Clothes are popularly known for the purpose of covering ones nakedness than for protecting one from harsh weather conditions like heat and intense cold and dangers like insect bites and other animal attacks. Well, initially humans were wanderers having no permanent settlement. We were known as early men and were more concerned about eating and reproducing than covering one’s nakedness. Clothes arose for a need to protection from harsh weather conditions and insect bites. The Europeans will certainly have to be heavily draped due to the intense cold while Africans would have been less clothed due to the heat.

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Nigerians and Clothes

Nigerians are known to be very particular about decency and modesty in appearance. Clothes must not only be beautiful but must also cover every single bit of ones nakedness. What if you found out that this was not the case?

What Did Nigerians Really Wear in the Old Days?

In the old days, Nigerians were less concerned about covering up nakedness. Clothes were more attributed to fashion and tradition. Most of what Nigerians wore were cultural scarification or tattoos, beads and light loin clothes. The chests of the women were mostly left bare and no one bothered about it. Here are some photos of ancient Nigeria that have seemed to be forgotten over time. This nudity was the fashion trend with the arrival of the colonial masters and lasted long enough until everyone decided it was not up to the trend.

Igbos with nude chests
Igbo man with his beads and loin cloth

It is amazing how the ancient Nigeria embraced nudity as their culture. Many of the recent generation are groomed to know full clothing of wrappers and blouses as his/her cultural attire and spit on the idea of scarification. To back this up, some ancient sculptures reveal some level of nudity apart from many beads which adorn the chests of the women and full chest bareness for the men except a loin cloth covering his penis.
See more photos below:

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Igbo women and anklets
Yoruba woman and her child

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Essien

    July 3, 2022 at 9:02 am

    Wow this very old memories

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