By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Nigeria; Hausa artist


Cotton, silk


H. 127 cm (50 in)

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, In memory of Diana Benz from her friends and family.  Contributors to the Diana J. Benz Memorial Fund: Astrid Bennett, John Benz, Jackie Blank, Natalie Brody, Sarah Brown, Barbara Buckley, Eve Dolch, Judith Dows, Sally Fedge, Judith Hurtig, Mary Lea Kruse, 1988.33

This robe, of a type worn by men in many parts of Nigeria and neighboring countries, incorporates several important characteristics of high status garments. It is large, reflecting the wealth of its wearer and literally increasing his size. The high cost of the gown is also the result both of the amount of material required and of its labor-intensive production: the cloth of which it is made is woven in thin strips, and much of the garment is decorated with elaborate hand-stitched embroidery. The large size of an agbada is more than an impressive visual display; it is also a practical adaptation to the warm climate of the African savanna. The layers of loose, billowing cloth cool the body, circulating air as the folds of the cloth move.