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Wodaabe Reed Woven Hat / Headdress from Republique du Niger
- Wodaabe Reed Woven Hat / Headdress from Republique du Niger
- Materials: finely woven reed with cattle leather hand dyed applique ornaments and strap.
- Age: mid to late 20th century
- The Wodaabe, also known as the Bororo, are a small subgroup of the Fulani Ethnic Group. They are traditionally nomadic cattle-herders and traders in the Sahel, with migrations stretching from southern Niger, through northern Nigeria, northeastern Cameroon, southwestern Chad, and the western region of the Central African Republic. The number of Wodaabe was estimated in 2001 to be 100,000 people. They are known for their elaborate attire and rich cultural ceremonies.
- The Wodaabe speak the Fula language and don't use a written language. In the Fula language, woɗa means "taboo", and Woɗaaɓe means "people of the taboo". This is sometimes translated as "those who respect taboos", a reference to the Wodaabe isolation from broader Fulbe culture, and their contention that they retain "older" traditions than their Fulbe neighbors. In contrast, other Fulbe as well as other ethnic groups sometimes refer to the Wodaabe as "Mbororo", a sometimes pejorative name, translated into English as "Cattle Fulani", and meaning "those who dwell in cattle camps".
- The Wodaabe keep herds of long-horned Zebu cattle. The dry season extends from October to May. Their annual travel during the wet season follows the rain from the south to the north. Groups of several dozen relatives, typically several brothers with their wives, children and elders, travel on foot, donkey or camel, and stay at each grazing spot for a couple of days. A large wooden bed is the most important possession of each family; when camping it is surrounded by some screens. The women also carry calabashes as a status symbol. These calabashes are passed down through the generations, and often provoke rivalry between women. The Wodaabe mostly live on milk and ground millet, as well as yogurt, sweet tea and occasionally the meat of a goat or sheep.
- At the end of the rainy season in September, Wodaabe clans gather in several traditional locations before the beginning of their dry season migration. The best known of these is In-Gall's Cure Salée Salt Market and Tuareg seasonal festival. Here the young Wodaabe men, with elaborate make-up, feathers and other adornments, perform the Yaake: dances and songs to impress marriageable women. The male beauty ideal of the Wodaabe stresses tallness, white eyes and teeth; the men will often roll their eyes and show their teeth to emphasize these characteristics. Wodaabe clans then join for the remainder of the week-long Gerewol: a series of barters over marriage and contests where the young men's beauty and skills are judged by young women.
- Documentaries and popular culture:
- The 1989 documentary Wodaabe - Herdsmen of the Sun by Werner Herzog describes the Wodaabe.In the 1999 documentary Zwischen 2 Welten (between two worlds) director Bettina Haasen films her personal conversations with Wodaabe members.
- The 2010 ethnographic documentary Dance with the Wodaabes by Sandrine Loncke explores, from the point of view of its participants, the complex cultural significance of the spectacular but frequently misunderstood and sensationalized Wodaabe ritual celebrations known as "Geerewol".
- The Niger-based band Etran Finatawa is composed of Wodaabe and Tuareg members and creates their unique style of "Nomad Blues" by combining modern arrangements and electric guitars with more traditional instruments and polyphonic Wodaabe singing. In 2005 they recorded an album and toured Europe.
- Married Wodaabe women are mentioned in part two of the BBC series Human Planet for having the right to take a different married man as a sexual partner.
- Measures approx. 8" tall x 14 1/2" wide