the History of the Dashiki

Dashiki, is sort of an ebonic word for “Danchiki”. A Hausas term pronounced dan-she-key. A loose-fitting or tailored shirt, often V-neck shaped, often with elaborate or simple embroidery patterns around the neck, chest, and sleeve lines. The shapes of the neckline may also vary. Some Dashikis come with closed necklines, some V-neck lines, square-neck lines, and many other shapes and forms.

Dashikis are generally made of Brocade, Lace, Silk, Suiting, Kente or Cotton fabrics. It is not uncommon to see Dashikis with embroidered symbols. Adinkra symbols, created by the Gyamans in Cote d’Ivoire, the Ivory Coast and the Akan of Akanland are a common type of symbol found on Dashikis.

A Black Dashiki is appropriate to wear to a funeral in Nigeria unless otherwise stated. Many West African cultures adopt this convention as well and this tradition has made its way to the western world over the last couple hundred years. In Ghana, Red is worn by the immediate family and Black by friends. Black is worn to mourn the death of young people. White with a touch of Black is worn when the deceased lived a long life. Black Dashikis are also be worn to celebrations, weddings, religious occasions, special events, casual events and more. Purple and Gold is generally a celebratory combination of colors in many African cultures. This combination of colors is considered regal and is worn to weddings, special events etc as well. White and Gold is another popular combination for weddings, birth ceremonies, religious events and many other occasions. There are other popular combinations; Brown and Gold, Blue and Silver and many others, all possessing different meanings. Dashikis are also worn casually with a pair of jeans, linen pants, shorts, skirts and other fitted attire.

All shades of colors are generally worn all year round in Africa contrary to the perception of wearing certain colors of Dashikis during particular seasons. Colors range from Gold, Black, Purple, Pink, Lime Green, Dark Green, Yellow, Blue, white, red and more. These colors are worn by Women, Men and children irrespective of the Hue. 

Dashikis made their way to the American market during the African-American political and cultural struggles in the 1960s. A good number of African-American icons began to wear Dashikis in place of western suits and ties to depict a sense of pride in their African Heritage. They found their way to cinemas, movies, plays, events, communities and schools. This fashion was perceived by society to be different in that, it was loose fitting, could be worn out of pants. The colors are often vibrant and the style is very different from conventional clothing.

Dashikis have evolved over the years. While the original styles are still widely worn, there are many contemporary styles that are getting a lot of steam in Africa and the western world. They have been incorporated in many African-American communities for special events, religious occasions, casual events, even schools. Dashikis and other forms of African Clothing are worn by millions of people across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom during African-American celebrations. Black history month, for example, is celebrated in the month of February by African-Americans and well wishers commemorating African heritage. Kwanzaa is another celebration of culture and heritage, observed from December 26th to January 1st.

 Hooded Dashiki by GKloth 

Hooded Dashiki by GKloth 

 Dashiki Pants by GKloth

Dashiki Pants by GKloth

 Dashiki Jumper Shorts by GKloth

Dashiki Jumper Shorts by GKloth

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