Origin: Made in Cameroon
Composition: Gloss beads, cowrie shells, fiber, and wood.
Color: black, yellow
Dimension Apron: 17.5" x 8.5"
Overall : 24" x14"
Weight: App. 1 Lb.
Kirdi aprons are known for hiding the feminine pubic region. For centuries, many cultures across Africa have used artifacts to hide genital regions. The diversity in the materials used for those artifacts ranged from a forged iron clamshell, woven cotton fiber, woven raffia, leather piece to the beaded apron.
The beaded Kirdi Nudity Aprons are handmade within Northern Cameroon in the Mandara Mountainous region, close to the Nigerian border. Due to their proximity, people within the Mandara Mountainous Region share the similar tradition with other ethnic groups across the border. The term “Kirdi” means pagan and refers to ethnic groups from Mafa, Zulgo, Gemjek, Mahtal, Podoko, Massa, Kapsik, and more that did not convert to Islam within a predominantly Islamic region.
Kirdi aprons are part of the attire for traditional ceremonies, along with a separate beaded belt and neck jewelry. They are worn for a ritual that signifies the passage into womanhood. Their color and design attract attention and protect the wearer against the evil eye. Kirdi aprons also find their place in weddings and fertility rituals. The symbolism behind all the motifs sends a message greater than the small piece itself; The blossom flowers represent reproduction and sexual maturity. The diamond shape within the square and dot(s) in the center respectively represent the woman’s fertility, union, and family. The chevron waves mean continuity or growth. The plants with many leaves resembling flowers, or the succession of ascending “V” shapes represent millet plants—which are essential and widely consumed among Kirdi people. The houses with cone roofs represent Kirdi traditional huts and symbolize family and refuge. The roof is also an important element as the harvest is stored in the roof. The birds symbolize nurturing, protection and grace.
The cowrie shells were once used for currency in some regions of Africa and are considered a symbol of wealth. Attached at the bottom of the apron, the cowrie shells reinforce the meaning of womanhood. The cowrie shape with the opening across resembles the genital anatomy of a woman.
Young women, newlyweds, or new mothers were gifted those traditional aprons with the intention to receive blessings from the meanings behind the designs. In 1961, the Cameroonian government imposed a new dress code regarding the use of the Kirdi Apron. Under the new regulation, women must be fully clothed under the nudity apron.
The weaving of a single apron can take up to two weeks. Often, women work on the pieces at the end of the day, after farming work.
The cotton fiber used for the weaving is very strong. A kirdi apron can last for generations.
Kirdi Nudity Aprons are full of history. Bring this conversation piece in your décor of fashion if you prefer to wear it around the waist.