By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)
In Africa, as elsewhere, people devote a great deal of skill and creative energy to the creation of clothing and adornments. African attire encompasses a broad range of media and styles, from wool, cotton, and raffia textiles to metal, leather, ivory, bone, and glass jewelry. Ephemeral adornments, such as body painting and hairstyles, are also important artistic expressions in many parts of Africa. These forms of attire are intended to enhance the beauty and the presence of the wearer, though they often serve much broader social purposes as well. They may indicate the identity of the wearer, providing information about his or her social status, age, religion, sex, and myriad other factors.