Reference: 100 Years of Beauty - Nigeria | Igbo (Men)
The plethora of videos entitled ‘100 years of’ is now commonplace on YouTube, and like the millions of people who have indulged in the series, I’ve enjoyed the many creative attempts to showcase a decade by decade time-lapse of the changes in style, beauty and social norms.
It’s not a secret that African countries are often overlooked when creators decide which regions to feature. And after years (literally) of waiting for someone to create something for Nigeria, that old saying ‘if not us then who’ echoed through as I remembered that the onus is on us to tell our own stories.
Much of the research was aided by Ụ́kpụ́rụ́’online documentation of historic images. Whilst researching, it became clear that; looks, beauty practices and styles vary throughout the Igbo region. As a result, our goal was to try to find a way to showcase the diversity of Igbo people, and to highlight the uniqueness of the style, hair and fashion trends for each decade.
The early 1900s
Much of Igboland was colonised in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with Nigeria becoming a British protectorate in 1901. From the 1910s to 1930s the colonial regime within Nigeria was yet to substantially impact the day to day attire of most Igbo men.
One item of clothing the colonial regime introduced to the Igbos and neighbouring ethnic groups was known as the ‘lungi’, a plaid patterned material of Indian origin referred to as ‘madras’. Colloquially, the cloth is called ‘Jịọjị’ (George) and the style of cloth was and is still used as cultural attire within the region.
The looks for the 1910s – 1950s features the ‘George’ wrapper tied around the waist of the model to represent the practice of men tying a cloth around their waist (photo below).
See thread by Ụ́kpụ́rụ́ : https://twitter.com/Ụ́kpụ́rụ́ /status/1126898563764633601
The look for the 1910s took inspiration from a photograph of a boy named Okonkwo in Akwa. The photo was taken between 1909 – 1913 by Thomas, Northcote Whitridge. (Colourised by Ụ́kpụ́rụ́)
For this look, along with the George wrapper, we’ve incorporated a necklace made of cowrie shells as an aesthetic variation.