History of African Dashiki Clothing
After hearing the word “Dashiki” the first thing come on your mind that what does it mean? How the cloths are look like? The word ‘Dashiki’ actually comes from the Yoruba word ‘danshiki’ and which means a work shirt, usually short sleeved, worn by men in West Africa. And the Yoruba borrowed the word from the Hausa term dan-chiki (literally ‘Underneath’). which refers to a short tunic worn by males under larger robes. Dashikis are worn by the peoples of Africa. And instantly recognizable as an African look.
In Nigeria and many other African countries dashikis are worn for the comfort in hot climate. In America the also send their origin message by wearing dashiki. A dashiki is a colorful garment that covers the top half of the body. The dashiki found a market in America during the Black cultural and political struggles in the 1960s. In the 1960s and 70s, during the black power movement, the dashiki was a symbol of self-love, independence, and beauty.
The dashiki rebelled against men’s fashions of that time: brightly colored instead of drab, loose instead of tight, worn outside the pants instead of tucked in. It could be worn defiantly on occasions that normally would call for a coat and tie. The dashiki was worn as a way to protest society’s disrespect for African Americans. It was a symbol of affirmation, it stood for “black is beautiful,” and signaled a return to African roots, and insistence on full rights in American society.
The militancy of the 1960s may have faded, but the dashiki has not. It still serves as a symbol of Africanness within American culture, especially during Kwanzaa and Black History Month. It is also sometimes worn as a high fashion look or just a colorful, comfortable shirt for all occasions.
In the early days of the twenty-first century, the dashiki has retained meaning for the African American community and a historical marker of the 1960s counterculture.
While seldom seen as street wear, the dashiki is worn at festive occasions such as Kwanzaa, the annual celebration to mark the unity of Americans of African descent and express pride in African heritage .
A 2019 Internet search called up over 5,000 entries for “dashiki,” largely from marketers who offer a range of vintage or contemporary African clothing. Vintage clothing retailers market dashikis as “a must for all hippie freaks” and for “wanna-be hippies.”
Costume companies offer “the dashiki boy” with a classic dashiki shirt, Afro wig, dark glasses, and a peace pendant necklace. Purveyors of African clothing have expanded the meaning of dashiki.
Beyond the distinctive shirt to include a variety of African robe ensembles and caftan styles. The dashiki’s popularity as a street style has faded, but it continues as an integral part of the African American fashion scene for festive occasions and as a form of dress evocative of the lifestyle of 1960s America. The informal version is a traditional print or embroidered dashiki.
Three formal versions exist. The first type, consists of a dashiki, sokoto (drawstring trousers), and a matching kufi. This style is called a dashiki suit or dashiki trouser set and it is the attire worn by most grooms during wedding ceremonies.
The second version consists of an ankle length shirt, matching kufi, and sokoto. The second style is calleda robe or Senegalese kaftan. The third type, is usually only worn by Tribal chiefs, Nigerians, or Muslims, and it consists of a dashiki, and matching trousers.
A flowing gown is worn over these. This type is called a Grand boubou in various Francophone countries. In the English-speaking world, it is called an Agbada. There are several different styles of dashiki suits available from clothing stores. The type of shirt included in the set determines the name. The traditional dashiki suit includes a thigh length shirt. The short sleeve, traditional style is preferred by purists. A long dashiki suit includes a shirt that is knee length or longer…..However, if the shirt reaches the ankles, it is called a robe or Senegalese kaftan.
Finally, the lace dashiki suit includes a shirt made of lace. A hybrid of the dashiki and caftan worn by females is a traditional male dashiki with a western skirt. Grey is the traditional color for some West African weddings. Some grooms wear white dashiki suits during wedding ceremonies. Some couples wear non-traditional colors. The most common non-traditional colors are purple and blue. In Africa Purple and lavender are the color of African royalty and blue is the color of love, peace, and harmony. Dashiki is also worn in the funerals or death ceremonies in Africa.
The colors chosen for such occasions are red and black. Red color signifies longing and love while the black color is symbolic of death. These red and black colors are considered the colors of mourning. Today’s American dashiki is similar to a kaftan, djellaba, boubou, or an abaya. Worn by those who enjoy true comfort, the dashiki’s cool, thin fabric makes for great summer wear. The loose cut allows for ease of movement and air flow in hot weather. Dashikis can also be found made of heavier fabrics, or worn on top of another shirt for warmth during cooler months. The casual comfort of a dashiki makes it an excellent choice for beach wear, casual settings, and around the home. A dashiki looks great at any age, for men or women, and for all body types. The dashikis was featured in the movies Uptight (1968), Putney Swope (1969), and the weekly television series Soul Train (1971). Black Panther Movie (2018)
In the Sanford and Son episode “Lamont Goes African” features Sanford’s son Lamont wearing a Dashiki as part of his attempt to return to his African roots. Jim Brown, Wilt Chamberlain, Sammy Davis Jr., and Bill Russell were among the well-known African-American athletes and entertainers who wore the dashiki on talk shows. Hippies also adopted dashikis into their wardrobe as a means to express counterculture values. Former District of Columbia mayor and council member Marion Barry was known for wearing a dashikis leading up to elections. Dashikis have been seen on many musicians and singers, mostly African Americans, including Beyoncé, Rihanna, ScHoolboy Q, Q-Tip, and many others. October 30 is celebrated as National Dashiki Day. On this day people from all religion celebrate this day by wearing dashiki. They wear dashiki to protest against hatred, racism and spiritual persecution! On this day peoples not only wear dashikis but put pictures on social media. Dashiki is also known by the name “Angelina” in some parts of Africa like Ghana and Congo.