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Nigerian Traditional Cloths

Updated on May 26, 2017
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Hausa Women

Hausa Traders
Hausa Traders | Source

Nigerian Fashion

Nigerians are very fashionable and wear the most elegant cloths. Every ethnic group and tribe has their own languages, hair styles, cloths and accessories.

They also play diverse ethic music instruments and have traditional dances. With over a hundred tribes there are three main ethnic groups.

We have the Yoruba in the west, Igbo east and Hausa in the northern regions. We also have people from the Niger delta oil rich area and areas such as Calabar.

Although western cloths are the norm some Nigerians still prefer wearing the traditional outfits. The cloths also feature prominently during special occasions such as weddings, naming ceremony, traditional engagements and social gatherings.

You find these beautiful attires in festivals and political gatherings. Nigerian women and men are very fashionable and have created amazing designs and fabrics. We will focus on the three major ethic groups the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa.

Traditional Hausa Cloths

The ethic group with the largest land mass is the Hausa people. They hold important positions in Nigerian politics and armed forces.

Many of Nigerian past rulers have come from this ethnic group. The Hausa Fulani are noted for long flowing apparels and large cloths.

The traditional gown is a two layered inner longed sleeve outfit with a massive outer garment. The inner and outer wears are usually monochromic or two colored.

Predominantly made from cotton material the bulky outfit is complemented by a headdress wrapped around a cap. The outfit is known as the Babban Riga and has Muslim origins.

The Fula cap has a wrap round cloth long enough to cover the mouth to prevent atmospheric dust from harsh northern winds. Modern twist to this formal outfit is the usage of quality material such as brocade or guinea to sew the cloths. The modern length of the Babban Riga stops short of the knees.

Fulani dancers from Northern Nigeria

Fulani dancers from Northern Nigeria
Fulani dancers from Northern Nigeria | Source

Fulani Women

The Fulani maidens have a distinctive cotton white blouse with very short sleeves which is waist length. The tank top usually has intricate weave work on chest area.

The long skirt is usually floor length and tightly rapped around their slender bodies.

They wear any head tie of choice in any color. To complete the look they adorn their woven hair with beads and wear large earrings.

Calabar Man

Calabar Man
Calabar Man | Source

Igbo hat and Isiagu

Igbo hat and Isiagu
Igbo hat and Isiagu | Source

Traditional Igbo Cloths

The Igbo people are found in most states of Nigeria. They also travel widely and establish small businesses anywhere they dwell. They have colorful cloths that stand out in any function.

Traditional Igbo Men Cloths

The traditional cloths for men vary from each ethnic group and region. Some regions wear large white shirts and plated shirts waist length. The men wear soft caps with narrow long ends.

Others wear large thick shirts and short wrappers or trousers. And add round fitted caps with pointed tip.

Younger men wear white shirts and shoulder draped wrappers that are trouser length. The men generally wear large or small red beads around neck.

Modern Igbo men outfit are long sleeve shirts with turtle neck and matching trousers. They wear fitted caps and red beads around neck. They may chose to wear same type of beads on one wrist and carry a walking stick.

Nigerian Traditional Outfits for Weddings and Special Occasions

Traditional Nigeria Cloths

Isiagu top
babban riga
puffed sleeve blouse
two wrappers
Iro-long wrap skirt
Okpu Agwu-mens hat

Igbo Woman Nigeria

Nathaniel Ajibola Igbo Woman Nigeria
Nathaniel Ajibola Igbo Woman Nigeria | Source

Traditional Igbo Women Cloths

The Igbo women may choose to wear a one piece knee length dress. Around the waist and neck she accentuates the outfit with large beads. She may wear a crown like red bead work on her head and wrists covered with red beads.

Another variation to this outfit is a long wrapper tied above the breast region just under the armpit. They add beads to hair, wrists and wear them around neck. They don’t wear beads around the waist with this outfit.

Sometimes the women wear elaborate red beads that cover both cheat region and shoulders. The choice of colors, materials and integrate designs are endless.

A modern Igbo bride could decide to wear a long sleeve blouse and long shirt made from quality fabric like lace. She wears a head tie and large red beads around the neck.

Babatunde Olatunji

Babatunde Olatunji
Babatunde Olatunji | Source

Yoruba Traditional Cloths

Yoruba people are fashionable and have a huge selection of cloths. The Yoruba people have developed different traditional fabrics made from cotton.

They have the Alaari fabric, Sanyan and Etu fabrics. The Alaari is a rich fabric referred to as Aso-Oke while the Etu are dark blue verity of AS-Oke.

The Sanyan is also Aso-Oke material but brownish in color. Other notable materials include Ofi a pure white cloth, Aran a velvet cloth and the famous Adire. The Adire cloth features different designs and patterns with indigo ink dye.

Yoruba men and women’s outfit are distinctively different from each other. The men and women wear specific cloths on different occasions.

Ethnic Cloths

Which outfit is Hausa

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Yoruba Man in Traditional Cloths

Yoruba man in Traditional Cloths
Yoruba man in Traditional Cloths | Source

Traditional Yoruba Men Cloths

The basic ensemble for Yoruba men are the agbada and Sokoto. The agbada is a flowing gown, elbow length cloth that is full length.

The bulky top is adorned by intricate weaving and designs around the cheat to mid rib. The Sokoto is a baggy trouser with rubber lining or cloth to tie the trousers in place.

They wear a Fila-cap made from the same material as the agbada. Under the agbada they wear a simple singlet or fitted shirt.

Other notable cloths worn by Yoruba men are Dansiki, Buba and Sokoto, Dandogo and Kembe. The caps come in various designs such as the flapping dog ears known as Eleti- Aja, and regular Fila cap.

Yoruba Woman

Yoruba Woman in Tradional Cloths
Yoruba Woman in Tradional Cloths

Types of Yoruba Men Sokoto-Native Trousers

The Yoruba man has a huge selection of native trousers to wear along with buba or agbada. Some notable trousers are highlighted below.

  • Gbaanu Sooro- Streamlined thousers
  • Kembe 3 quarter baggy shorts
  • Sokoto Elemu- the palmwine tappers thousers
  • Kaamu

Traditional Yoruba Women Cloths

Traditional Yoruba women cloths comprise the buba top and iro wrapper. The buba is a long or short loose fitted blouse.

While the iro is either a one piece long length skirt or wrapper. To complete the outfit they drape a shawl over one shoulder and wear a head tie called the gele.

Yoruba women are one of the most elegant dressers in Nigeria mixing and matching the buba and iro in different ways.

Traditional Yoruba Beads

There are many traditional Yoruba beads worn on special occasions. They wear them as necklaces, anklets and bangles. Popular beads are the Ileke, Egba Orun, Egba ese, Egba owo.

© 2017 femi


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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you for the interesting, informative article on the Nigerians, their tribes and their fashions. Good read and beautiful pictures!

    • profile image


      21 months ago



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