Fashion has always been a world-building up multiple trends in order to validate your resume of fashion addicts and to see how your creativity can reinvent those trends and make them yours.
There is a meaning behind everything, and sometimes we don’t necessarily pay attention to the cultural or spiritual aspect of what we wear. Fashion has demystified apparat, trendiness took out their real estate and the values that they encouraged.
We will talk about some accessories that we’ve seen on our favorite cover magazine or celebrity and give their ethnic aspect in Africa and for others in the world.
Cowries are now the trendiest accessory you can have in your closet this year. Traveling from Africa, Asia, their necklaces and jewelry are on every continent.
In the past, it was used as a currency in West Africa, one of the most successful in the world, especially during the great empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhaï.
Cowries had a strong spiritual value and cultural aspect, horns, fetishes were set with cowries used by both healer and sorcerer. These objects and costumes covered with them are found in Casamance among the Diola and in Eastern Senegal among the Bassari, where the traditional religion is still alive.
On the symbolic level, the cowries are frequently connected with the feminine.
Their shape being associated with that of the female sex, cowries can be used during fertility rites. Unfortunately, in most countries, cowries have lost its ritualistic and symbolic value, even though in some tribes it is still used and seen as a protective charm or divination tool by divine tellers, but now we can all give them another sense through fashion and we are loving it.
Beyoncé (Singer, Songwriter), wearing a Lafalaise Dion headpiece
Gold is the most precious metal in the world but guess which continent produced and register the largest goldmine? Africa. Egyptians Gods and pharaoh were always represented with gold, it was one of the most symbolic object to define royalty.
African history with gold despite of the blood spilled caused by covetousness, still remain one of the most common used material in our communities. You have seen gold in weddings, married couples were certainly dancing with their golden costume and jewelry. Gold implies wealth in our societies and nowadays shines on rings, necklaces, gourmets, etc
Meanwhile, it still has its same aspect in Akan tribes having a symbol of power, spiritual force by creating statuette that were worshipped and used as another language for educational purpose to the youngest. In Mali, the Dioula people use it as a lucky and protective charm. You will hear stories of gold being a present from the gods in countries like Ghana, Mali and South Africa that still have a strong relationship with gold and are the countries producing the most in the world.
Mansa Musa, was the tenth Mansa of the Mali Empire and made Mali the largest producer of gold in the world, and Musa has been considered one of the richest people on earth.
Bags and handbags have been noted throughout history as far back as ancient Egypt – hieroglyphics depict men carrying bags tied around their waist (similar to a modern-day fanny pack).
Peasants and farmers in early civilizations were known to carry seeds and grains in small bags and African priests have been known to carry beaded bags as a sign of luxury and power. They were shaped through fashion and adapted to every need from the smallest to the largest (Handbags, Backpack).
“Ghana must go” is a brand that we all have seen one day at the airport or we even ourselves carried to travel, this popular bag was used by several West African citizens, especially Ghanaians, to contain their belongings as they were forced to leave Nigeria during the 1980s. Now it’s getting appropriated by western fashion companies during their fashion shows.
Handbags have become a fashion accessory, that men and women cannot live without.
Some people still believe that Europeans are the ones that introduced shoes in Africa, that we were a land of naked and barefoot.
Let me warn you before you start realizing your ignorance. They were often reserved for ceremonial functions and for royalty. Traditional materials to make shoes, as discerned by anthropologists, were rawhide, leather, and metal; to mention a few. Interestingly, archaeologists have discovered that Ancient Egyptians made shoes for the right and left foot; unlike earlier European shoes.
The Hausa seem to have the most documented shoe history of the continent. Their leatherwork is considered legendary throughout West Africa and their intrinsic work has constructed the likes of boots and sandals. Ghana, in particular the Akan’s community, had
the Ahenema which is a local slipper that commands respect, majesty, and authority in society. The shoes were made using plant material, with climbing plants making the upper and gradually started to use leather in the shoes which were referred to as ‘chawchaw’ which were for the kings and a few queens in the kingdom.
It’s actually hard to precisely know who made the first eyewear in history. Some will talk about the Inuit’s who made rustic ivory sunglasses to protect their eyes from sunlight. Furthermore, it served judges in Ancient China during the trial, made of “smoke-colored quartz” it was used to prevent the prosecution and defense from being able to read the judges’ expressions and not be altered or influenced by accidental facial reactions. Egyptians have the most ancient lenses but we don’t really know if they had sunglasses.
Nowadays sunglasses are a must to have a classy, trendy and are a celebrity go-to accessory but it was either to protect your eyes or used as a microscope.
Why do you wear your accessories, would tell us more? Subscribe to our mail address we want to read everybody!
Written by Yao Boni.