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The fez cap is popular among northern Africans, especially men, of various nationalities, religions, and tribal affiliations. The cap is a small, brimless, flat-topped cap that fits above the ears on the top of the head. The cap was named for the city of Fez, Morocco, and a red fez, or tarbouch, has become a national symbol of that country. By the early nineteenth century,

A soldier in the Ghanaian presidential guard wearing a red fez cap. Reproduced by permission of© Paul Almasy/CORBIS.

Tanzanian Decoration

the fez cap was also an official part of the military or national costume in Turkey and Zanzibar, now Tanzania.

Historically, the fez cap had been worn mostly by Muslims. Although still popular among men of this religion, the fez cap has also been adopted for fashionable wear by people of many other religions. Fezzes of many different colors are worn throughout northern Africa.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Blauer, Ettagale. African Elegance. New York: Rizzoli, 1999.

Kennett, Frances, and Caroline MacDonald-Haig. Ethnic Dress. New York: Facts on File, 1994.

Head decoration is an important part of everyday African dress. Headwraps are common cloth adornments for covering the hair. They beautify the wearer and protect against the sun. In a typical African headwrap, a length of plain or patterned cotton cloth is wound around the head to create a variety of different looking styles. Some styles are intended to provide padding to make it easier to carry heavy items on top of the head. Headwraps are most commonly worn by women in the south and west of Africa, but men in some regions also wear headwraps.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Blauer, Ettagale. African Elegance. New York: Rizzoli, 1999.

Kennett, Frances, and Caroline MacDonald-Haig. Ethnic Dress. New York: Facts on File, 1994.

M en and women throughout Africa have smoothed clay or mud on their heads as decoration for thousands of years. Clay and

Ftm Body Hair
The hair of a young Masai minister is covered with mud. Hardened mud is used to hold hair stiffly in place, sometimes mounded into helmets. Reproduced by permission of © Charles & Josette Lenars/CORBIS.

mud is used to hold their hair stiffly in place or mounded into helmets that can be painted with colorful designs. Clay is also used on longer hair, which is wound or woven into elaborate styles, or as complete coverings for shorter cuts. The Kuria, Masai, and Turukana peoples of Kenya weave their hair into sculptures supported by wire or sticks and held in place with sheep fat and red clay. The Bumi and Karo peoples of Ethiopia cover their closely cropped hair with clay to create helmet-like headgear that hold macramé bands, which they use to secure peacock or other bird feathers. Clay and mud hairstyles crack or break easily so people sleep with their heads resting on special wooden boxes that keep their hairstyles intact.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Gröning, Karl. Body Decoration: A World Survey of Body Art. New York: Vendome Press, 1998.

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