What are the traditional Igbo hats?
Name: Okpu agụ̄ “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)
The okpu agụ̄ is the leopard hat, whilst sometimes the opku ozo is referred to okpu isi-agụ̄.
Name: Okpu ozo/obara obara “Red cap” (Chieftaincy hat)
- 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
Isi agụ̄ 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-agụ̄ cloth, titled men typically wear a red ‘okpu ozo’ (chieftaincy red cap).
Note: Agụ̄ is term generally used for big several (wild) cats. In this case it refers to leopard. Click the link to read more more about Isi agụ̄.
Where to buy traditional Igbo hats?
To find an Igbo hat, try to visit your local African clothing retailer, or search online.