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Mahdi Army Tunic (Jibbeh)

From 1881-1898 the Islamic Madhist army fought to regain control of the Sudan region from British and Egyptian forces. This jibbeh is a tunic that was worn by officers in the Mahdist army, who were led by Mohammed Ahmed. The jibbeh was the standard uniform for all Mahdists, but the size and style variations depend on the region of the wearer. This particular tunic is associated with the Baqqara Arabs, which were among the first to wear this uniform.

The patchwork design is inspired by the first followers of the Islamic Mahdi, the darawish, who wore ragged tunics with wool patches. Darawish means “poor men,” and they were typically men who left their farms to fight for religious freedom. The patchwork not only works to repair holes, but it also indicates their humble background. The garments started being decorated using wool after the siege of Khartoum in 1884-1885, when the Mahdist army found British uniforms and fabrics.

The ground of the tunic is cotton with applique multicolored wool patches and  embroidery. There are some scattered moth holes on the wool and distress on the ground but it’s overall in good condition.

Circa: 1884-1898

Origin: Sudan

Material: Cotton with Wool Applique

Condition: Good, some staining and holes

Dimensions: 37" long x 52" sleeve to sleeve

Inventory number: WR3967



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