Week 17: Luo Apron & Dress

Where is this clothing from? Who made it?

Was it for special occasions?

Is this traditional clothing?



Answers:

Where is this clothing from? Who made it?

Both this blue dress and the apron worn over it are from Kenya, in East Africa (click here to see the apron alone). The apron is made of cowhide and decorated with beads. It was made by the Luo people, which is the second largest ethnic group in East Africa, numbering around 3 million people.

Was it for special occasions?

This apron was worn on funerary occasions. Funerals are a very important social function in Luo society, and community attendance is considered an obligation. A funeral can last for several days, over which period there is much feasting and socializing. Traditionally, donning one's finest adornments was a show of respect for the dead among the Luo.

Is this traditional clothing?

Since the regions they inhabit are often hot and dry, clothing among the Luo people has traditionally been minimal. But visiting missionaries pressured the Luo to wear more clothing, and eventually traditions were updated. Fashions now are more in line with the photo above, in which you can see a type of dress that might be worn with the traditional funeral apron.


If you are interested in women's fashions from the rest of the world, come by the Karshner Center after Friday, March 6th and check out our newest exhibit, The World of Women's Suffrage! It focuses on the struggle to get women the vote, which in the US marks its 100th anniversary this year.


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