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Okpu Igbo: Traditional Igbo Hats (Male)

What are the traditional Igbo hats?

Name: Okpu agu “leopard hat” (a sign of bravery/warriors)

Style: Woven with white, black and red stripes (an abstract depiction of leopard spots)

Origin: Abia/Cross river region, from the Ekpe (leopard society)

Variation: Okpu mboko (black and white, worn by highest grade of the Ekpe society)

Name: Okpu ozo “Ozo cap” (Red cap)

Style: Red, study material, suede texture

Origin: Anambra region – sacred/earned, traditionally worn by titled men e.g. ‘Nzes’, ‘Ichies’, ‘Ozos’, ‘Ogbuefis (chiefs and kings)

Variation: Ugo (Eagle) feather on higher ranks

The okpu agu is the leopard hat, whilst sometimes the opku ozo is referred to okpu isi-agu.

Isi agu is cloth patterned with the face of a lion, traditionally it should only be worn by specific titled men (although nowadays it’s been ‘appropriated’ by all). Along with the isi-agu cloth, titled men typically wear a red ‘okpu ozo’ (chieftaincy red cap).

Note: Isi agu (should be odum because ‘odum’ in Igbo means lion, whilst agu is leopard but that’s another debate).

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