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Object Timeline

1932

  • Work on this object ended.

2007

2014

2021

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Loincloth (Nigeria)

This is a Loincloth. It is dated before 1932 and we acquired it in 2007. Its medium is hand-spun cotton and its technique is hand-loomed plain weave, indigo-dyed. It is a part of the Textiles department.

This African cloth, called akwa-mmiri (literally “cloth of water"), is made from locally grown, hand-spun cotton yarns, dyed in two shades of indigo blue. These blues, plus white, are used to form irregular stripes down the center of the narrow panel. Historically associated with the war dance, today the cloth may also be worn for special festivals such as Eloso (the New Year festival celebrated once every two years in September), the New Yam Festival, or for the funeral of an important man.
For the war dance, the cloth can be worn as a loincloth. For modern ceremonial use, it is often worn tied in a single knot at the waist, over a floor length piece of George, a highly-valued fine cotton plaid fabric imported from India. In the funeral context, the cloth is a mark of respect for the deceased, indicating that he was a courageous man and a defender of his community.
Handed down from the father to the eldest son in a family, often at the time of the death of the father, akwa-mmiri remains culturally important and has a high societal value.

This object was donated by Chinyere Okoronkwo. It is credited Gift of Chinyere Okoronkwo.

Its dimensions are

Warp x Weft: 221 x 61.6 cm (7 ft. 3 in. x 24 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Loincloth (Nigeria); hand-spun cotton; Warp x Weft: 221 x 61.6 cm (7 ft. 3 in. x 24 1/4 in.); Gift of Chinyere Okoronkwo; 2007-49-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18710397/ |title=Loincloth (Nigeria) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=7 December 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>