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Dibul Kouan (Beaded Apron)

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unknown Kirdi
Kirdi Primary

Dibul Kouan (Beaded Apron)

Woven, sewn, and beaded cloth with fiber and cowrie shells

10 1/4 in. x 29 1/4 in. (26.04 cm x 74.3 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.5.32
Other Number(s): 83-48C (Neufeld Collection Number)
Geography: Africa, Cameroon
Classification: Clothing and Adornments; Clothing
Culture/Nationality: Tikar, Cameroonian, Central African, African
Collection: Neufeld Collection
Description: Traditionally, the cache-sexe was the principle article of clothing for Tikar women, and its decoration could reflect the wearer's creativity, artistic virtuosity, and cultural identity. The contrasting colors of the beads and the musicality of cowry shells would both conceal and draw attention to the pelvic region of the young woman who wore such an apron. Following the independence of Cameroon in 1960s, new laws required that women cover their bodies more fully.

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:
  • African - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Africa, which is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • beading - Trimming, furnishing, adorning, or covering textiles or objects with beads, or creating jewelry by stringing beads.
  • beadwork - Visual works comprising designs, patterns, or other arrangements of beads, typically stringed or attached to textile supports.
  • cache-sexe - Main garments worn by women, primarily in Africa, to cover the genitals, often consisting of pendant elements made of metal or vegetal matter that hang from a cord tied around the waist or hips; may also be made of cloth and some element may pass between the legs.
  • Cameroonian - Style and culture of the nation of Cameroon, lying at the junction of western and central Africa.
  • Central African - Styles and cultures from a wide region of Africa that straddles the Equator and is drained largely by the Congo River system.
  • Tikar

Additional Images Click an image to view a larger version
Additional Image 99.5.32_BMC_f_2.jpg
Additional Image 99.5.32_BMC_f.jpg
Additional Image 99.5.32_03.jpg

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
  • Worlds to Discover: 125 Years of Collections at Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr College , Sep 24, 2010 – May 28, 2011
  • African and Pacific Art from the Neufeld Collection Bryn Mawr College , Apr 28, 1993 – Jun 1, 1993

  • Owner Name: Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953
    Role: Donor
    Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US
    Ownership End Date: 7/18/1991

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • John Gillow, African Textiles: Color and Creativity Across a Continent (New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 2016), 204.

Related Bibliography List
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
  • John Gillow, African Textiles: Color and Creativity Across a Continent (New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 2016), 204-205.
  • Michael Oehrl, "Girding the Loins of the Kirdi." HALI Magazine 181 (Autumn 2014): HALI, Lonon, England. 74-79.
  • Michael Oehrl, "Original oder Fälschung: Perlenschurze der Kirdi (Nord-Kamerun) – bis zum Ende der deutschen Kolonialzeit eine Seltenheit." Kunst&Kontext: Außereuropäische Kunst und Kultur im Dialog no. 13 (2017):

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This object is a member of the following portfolios:

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Dibul Kouan (Beaded Apron) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=6/6/2023 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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