Ghana Boy Tunic

West Africa has been defined as including as many as 17 countries. As a result, the peoples of the regions diverse nations wear a variety of clothing with underlying similarities.  A typical piece of West African attire is the hip long woven smocks or tunic. The decoration of these tunics with embroidery is also wide spread over the region.

In the 1960s and 70s, many young Dogon and Bamana men from Mali migrated to the relatively cosmopolitan cities of Accra and Kumasi in Ghana in search of work. Back home to show off their newfound sophistication these youths became known as the “Ghana Boys.”  Alongside imported clothing,  some wore a new and distinctive style of embroidered sleeveless tunic decorated with colorful and often figurative designs. The decorative motifs of these tunics would reflect the vocations of these migrant workers,  as well as western motifs like airplanes and televisions and pop culture and Bollywood figures.

This Ghana boy tunic is decorated with polychrome cotton embroidery. Its main elements are vertical center strips in front and back that are divided into squares that are further sectioned into small areas of cubes, triangle and diamond shapes. The front strip is flanked by diagonal small pockets while the back strip is flanked by two pairs of scissors, indicating that the wearer was a barber.


Circa: 20th c

Origin: West Africa

Material: Cotton embroidery on cotton ground

Condition: Excellent some staining

Dimensions: 42" X 23"

Inventory number: WR3899



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Inventory #: WR3899 Categories: , ,

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