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Apron

Accession Number
2000/2.50

Title
Apron

Artist(s)

Object Creation Date
circa 1890-1920

Medium & Support
string, leather, and metal

Dimensions
16 5/16 in x 1 3/4 in (41.43 cm x 4.45 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
This object is listed as made by Kirdi peoples; while most likely correct, it is not without issue. “Kirdi”, meaning pagan, was the label given to the various peoples from northern Cameroon, northeastern Nigeria, and southern Chad by neighboring Fulani and Kanuri peoples because they did not practice Islam, while the latter do. The people collectively known as “Kirdi” are actually many different cultural groups with their own customs. However, due to a lack of information on where exactly this object came from, it is not possible to say with certainty which group of people created it.

Aprons, called pikuran in some areas, were worn by Kirdi girls and women on special and ceremonial occasions. Around the age of six or seven young girls began wearing a leather belt with two straps, sometimes with a second string belt, where four string panels would hang down in front and one in back. At a marriageable age, young women wore beaded aprons to indicate their eligibility for marriage. In addition to aprons, belts of brass rings or beads were also worn, as more objects displayed a woman’s wealth and status. Various designs and styles referred to a woman’s cultural group, marital status, and age. When Cameroon gained independence in 1961, the government issued regulations requiring that women be fully dressed. In some areas, these aprons are still used, but no longer made.  

References Cited: 
Gebauer, Paul. 1979. Art of Cameroon. Portland, Or.: Portland Art Museum.
Lembezat, Bertrand. 1961. Les populations païennes du Nord-Cameroun et de l'Adamaoua. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Lembezat, Bertrand. 1952. Mukulehe; un clan montagnard du Nord-Cameroun; coutumes, rites, croyances. Paris: Berger-Levrault.
Northern, Tamara. 1984. The Art of Cameroon. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Page, Donna. 2007. A Cameroon World. New York: QCC Art Gallery Press.

Physical Description
Apron with a fringe made of string, attached to three leather rods connected by three bands of metal. The bands of metal are decorated with orange and grey concentric circles. 

Primary Object Classification
Costume and Costume Accessories

Primary Object Type
apron

Collection Area
African

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
cache-sexes
ceremonial costume
fertility
social status
symbols of office or status
wealth
women (female humans)

1 Related Resource

Visual Cultures of Islam- Textiles 
(Part of: Visual Cultures of Islam )

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display