African Ethnic Wedding Gowns
Africa is so diverse, and has thousands of ethnic groups; specific wedding rituals vary from region to region. A wedding in Africa is seen as a combination of two families, traditions and families have a very important role. Some rich African families plan tow weddings one in the traditional style and one influenced by the modern Western cultures. Polygamy is common in tribal societies and it is accepted as a style of life in Africa. Some Africans have Islamic or Christian influences and that reflect in their wedding rituals.
For Swahili Muslims with Afro-Arabic background in Kenya the weddings can be going on for a weeks with many festivities. Marriages are often arranged by their parents. The Masais living in Kajiado of Kenya follow their own old traditions. In Sudan the African Arabic people called Baggara men must give bride wealth to his new wife’s family, usually cattle as compensation to the parents of the loss of a family member. A man can have several wives if he is wealthy and can support them equally. In Nigeria the marriage is seen as a bound between blood relation and it is considered very important.
Traditionally the search for marriage partner starts soon after the child is born in Kalahari Desert. Today many African families follow Western style traditions including the white dress. The old tribal traditions are disappearing. The bridal attire reflects the class, caste and wealth and religious beliefs of the family. Wealthier brides may afford more elaborate gowns, more ornamented, while the brides from poor families make their own wedding attire and borrow jewelry. Usually the bridal attire is passed from generation to generation. The wedding gown is influenced by their beliefs can reflect the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish influences. Wedding gown vary from country to country, in Morocco and Sudan Brides wear elaborated embroidered robes with precious stones, or with gold and silver that shows the family’s status and wealth. Nilotes brides wear a bead apron and a half skirt along with sandals, ash, cley and a necklace. In Ghana brides wear the colors red, gold and green symbolizing blood, prosperity and home. African royalty brides wear purple and gold.
The wedding ethnic African attire reflects the heritage by the fabrics, color, jewelry or embroidery they use. Many designers get inspired from the African wedding ethnic attire and have included in their collection some elements. Usually modern African brides wear yellow or blue wedding dresses with Western culture influences but they add some ethnic elements to show their heritage.11