Photo credit: Voyage au Congo" by Marc Allegret and André Gide Photo credit: Voyage au Congo" by Marc Allegret and André Gide Photo credit: Voyage au Congo" by Marc Allegret and André Gide

Kirdi is actually a pejorative term which was applied to ethnic groupings in the far north of Cameroon and North Eastern Nigeria. These are people who had resisted and not converted to Islam by the time of colonisation. Hence converts in this and their sub-ethnic groupings started calling them Kirdi, which is a Kanuri term for pagan. Kanuri people, which include the people once called Kirdi are a vast ethnic group living largely in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Kirdi aprons are modesty aprons which were used to cover the sex of both males and females. The aprons were made with materials such as metal, calf skin or beads. The male aprons were usually made of either metal or calf skin and adorned with cowrie shells at the edges. Whereas the female aprons came in handwoven cotton yarn decorated with glass beads in the most charming patterns. Each design denotes a different occasion, some for everyday wear and others for special events. Some designs, especially those worn by unmarried girls, came with messages to attract the attention of the opposite sex, while others were worn as a shield for protection against the evil eye. The various communities and subgroups had subtly distinct styles from each other which ended up creating a very large catalogue of designs.

Kirdi aprons have been a fascination to designer Amechi Mandi ever since he first lay eyes on them as a teenager and remained the first source of inspiration whenever he designed anything which paid homage to his cultural heritage. So to launch the brand, we thought it fitting for the first collection to come from the Kirdi.

For a long time we wondered how we could share the beauty of these textiles in a more approachable way while not giving away their authenticity and intrinsic charm. Our Kirdi scatter cushion designs are hand drawn and digitally illustrated with an effort to make the beadwork effect as real as possible.

The collection comes in 15 designs, all numbered in Fulbe, a language spoken by one of the Kanuri ethnic groups. We hope you love the outcome and will find at least one you would love to own!

 


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