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10 Popular Nigerian Traditional Attires

Nigeria has diverse ethnic groups with diverse cultures. Almost everyone has unique cultural dressings and traditional attires. In this article, we’ll look at the 10 most popular ones. Check them out below; 

1. Agbada 

As a renowned Yoruba and Hausa attire, Agbada is often embroidered and worn on important religious or ceremonial events, such as the two Islamic Eid festivals, weddings, funerals, or to attend Friday prayer at the Mosque. Aside from Nigeria, many countries in West Africa have adopted it as their formal dress. 

Agbada is made up of three items of clothing: a pair of tie-up pants that shorten towards the ankles, a long-sleeved shirt, and a broad, open-stitched sleeveless gown worn over them. Agbada is for males and there is a female version of the attire.

2. Gele 

At number 2, we have Gele, another Yoruba attire. Literally, a gele is a head tie except that it’s decorated with specific patterns and tied in unique styles. Although gele can be worn on a daily basis, the ceremonial ones are reserved for weddings, special occasions, and religious functions.

It’s made with stiffer fabric than normal cloth. The gele usually covers a woman’s whole hair as well as her ears when she wears it. Her face and earrings on the bottom portion of her earlobes are the only parts of her body that are visible. The gele is worn with traditional local clothing.

3. Isiagu 

An Igbo man’s dressing isn’t complete without the Isiagu. The Isiagu, also known as Chieftaincy, is a pullover shirt. It’s generally reserved for exceptional occasions, such as weddings. Long or short sleeved shirts are available. On most Isiagu shirts, there’s a chain with gold buttons. 

On the front, there is generally a breast pocket. The Isiagu was traditionally presented to a man when he was given a chieftaincy title. A red fez hat or an Igbo leopard cap is frequently worn with the shirt. Isiagu literally means Head of a Leopard.

4. Dashiki 

Remember Wizkid’s Show Me The Money Video; Star boy was rocking Dashiki. In the early 2010s, Dashiki was a trend not just in Nigeria but Worldwide. Dashiki suits come in a variety of styles. A thigh-length shirt is included in the classic dashiki outfit. Purists like the short-sleeved, classic design. 

A shirt that is knee-length or longer is included in a long dashiki outfit. Finally, the lace dashiki suit comes with a lace shirt. A traditional male dashiki with a western skirt is a combination of the dashiki and caftan worn by women.

5. Ibuot Abang 

Here we head to the South South Efik people. Have you seen a traditional Efik dancer performing the Abang dance? Well, you must have seen the Ibuot Abang on her head. The headpiece is unique and yet simple. What about the dance? 

The term “Abang” means “pot,” and it represents fertility. The dance originated from the worship of the Ndem, the water goddess. It is also a tribute and celebration of respect and gratitude to the earth goddess Abasi Isong, who is responsible for abundant resources and fertile land for growing crops. 

6. Buba 

Simply put, Buba is the top or blouse Nigerian women wear with wrappers regularly. However, the term “Buba” is exclusive to Yoruba tops and blouses. Normally, the Buba is purchased in a full ensemble that includes the wrappers. Hence, you get Iro and Buba. 

In addition to the Iro and Buba, we also have the Gele which was mentioned earlier. These three clothing items make up a complete traditional attire for a Nigerian Yoruba woman. There’s also a scarf placed on the shoulder. 

7. Kaftan 

A kaftan is a type of robe or tunic that has been worn for thousands of years in a variety of civilizations across the world. It is of Asian origin. Hence, even though Kaftan is common in Nigerian traditional dressings, we don’t own it. Kaftan also passes as a formal wear. 

The regular Nigerian kaftan is an ankle-length garment that is paired with tubay, which are drawstring pants. It is common in other parts of West Africa and is usually made of cotton brocade, lace, or synthetic fabrics. A kaftan suit is made up of a kaftan and matching pants. A kufi cap is worn with the kaftan suit.

8. Lace 

Lace is the up and down cloth you see everyday. The difference from a lace and any other matching outfit out there is the material. Lace material always feels waterproof when you touch it. Both men and women in Nigeria wear lace but it’s most common with the women. 

Lace is very fashionable as it usually features varying patterns and designs. Furthermore, since the lace is basically a material, it can be made into any type of design. It’s a very versatile traditional attire and it’s what most asoebi ladies wear in traditional and white weddings.

9. Onyonyo

Here’s a second Efik attire – the Onyonyo. When you see an Efik bride, you easily get wowed by her long and colorful dress. That’s the Onyonyo. The gown is flowing and also rubbing the ground as the brides walk. In some cases, there’s a maid to hold the back of the dress. 

The Onyonyo can be made with various styles and designs. Also, it can come in different colors. In old times, the Onyonyo was worn by Queens. It’s worn by almost every modern Efik bride for her traditional marriage today. 

10. Eto-Okuku

This is an Edo traditional attire. Eto-Okuku, which literally means “hairstyle in the shape of a bun,” is one of the Edo wedding dresses. The bride’s hair is styled into a high bun, which is usually done with black gel. After that, coral beads are stitched into the hair or extensions to make a crown. Many brides choose pre-made wigs that include the hair and crown.