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

Niger; Wodaabe peoples



L. 127 cm (50 in)

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from Stanley Support for African Art Programs, 1996.21 

The geerewol culminates in a spectacular dance competition in which all of the unmarried men participate. They spend hours adorning themselves before the event, braiding their hair, pinning beads and other ornaments onto their garments, and painting their faces with delicate lines to enhance their features. These dances are important sources of status for young men, for the winner captures the attention of eligible women in the audience. Tunics like this are the foundation of a man's geerewol attire, providing a colorful surface against which to display their jewelry and other finery. They are embroidered by women with intricate designs based on natural forms such as spiders and snakes.