Lambadi fashion
Sep 10 2014

Fashion Week: Tribal fashions

By Jordan Kimbrell, writer/editor for Unbound

Unbound works with families from many different cultures and traditions. Inspired by New York Fashion Week, we want to explore the different fashions that are found within those cultures. Today we take a closer look at tribal fashions worn by the Maasai in Kenya, the Lambadi in India and the Dumagats in the Philippines.

Maasai of Kenya

Maasai fashion

The Maasai wear many layers of clothing. From cotton cloth to beaded belts, each piece is colorful and vibrant. In this photo, Malee, whose son Abraham is sponsored through Unbound, is putting on the last piece of the outfit, a shuka. There are two types of shuka. One is a full length tube of fabric tied over one shoulder and the other a blanket-sized cloth that wraps around the shoulders and ties in front, if worn by a woman. Men wrap the outer shuka around their bodies.

“[These clothes] make me feel like a true Maasai woman in a world that no longer values culture,” Malee said. “I feel so honored to represent my culture through my Maasai attire.”

Lambadi of India

The Lambadi are a semi-nomadic tribe in India. This is reflected in their fashion by the durability and multi-use function of their clothes.

“Every piece of clothing has some utility or another,” said Kamili, whose son is sponsored through Unbound. “The ‘ghungto’, the head cover, can turn into a bag when needed. We also use different kind of stitches in our clothing to make it strong and durable. Our clothes are designed for a nomadic lifestyle.”

Along with durability, the Lambadi women decorate their clothes with great intricacy. They use beads, mirrors, embroidery and shells to turn their garments into works of art.

Lambadi women

Watch this video to see a traditional Lambadi folk dance and song.

Dumagats of the Philippines

Dumagat children

The Dumagats are considered among the earliest natives of the Philippines. Their clothing style has been influenced by what they found in the mountains and has been handed down through the generations, including the red coloring.

Earlier generations of Dumagats dyed their cloth using sap from a local tree called Polok-polok. This tree grows in abundance, making it easily accessible for use. The Dumagats also consider red to be the prettiest color and wearing it means they are part of what makes the mountain beautiful.

The beads used to make their jewelry are called tigbi. The beads are made using seeds from a local plant bearing the same name. The Dumagats believe their jewelry is priceless, and preferable to gold or silver. Their headdress symbolizes a crown of goodwill, and the Dumagats will offer the headdress from their own head to a guest.

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Jordan Kimbrell

Jordan Kimbrell, writer/editor
Jordan joined the Unbound family in 2011, just a few weeks after completing her masters in English: Creative Writing from Kansas State University. Jordan is constantly inspired by the hope and creativity displayed by the sponsored members and their families and loves being able to share their stories with the rest of the world.

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