It was cultural day in my kid brother’s school and he had been asked to represent the Igbo culture. We didn’t have any Igbo attire for him to don and so we contemplated his missing out on the celebration. As we thought about what to do, an idea struck daddy. He quickly remembered one particular attire peculiar to Igbo men and that was how he set out to get one of the latest Isi-agu styles for my kid brother.
What is Isi-Agu?
Isi-Agu literally means lion’s head in Igbo. It is a pullover tunic shirt (long or short-sleeved) made with the fabric with the lion’s head prints. It is also called ‘Chieftaincy’ as this attire was traditionally given to a man anytime he got a chieftaincy title. The attire is usually paired with a red fez hat or the Igbo leopard cap known as Okpu Agu in Igbo language.
This native wear for men and women is similar to Dashiki only that it usually has gold buttons and a breast pocket. And rather than being made with the Angelina print like Dashiki, it is made with the Lion head prints.
What Does Isi-Agu Symbolise?
The latest Isi-agu styles come in different colours and fabrics all with the uniform pattern. In Igbo royalty, it is one of the king’s garment worn for various occasions, intents and mood which have different meanings and memories they evoke. It serves as a robe of honour or a coronation garment and as such, it is believed that it should never be worn profanely.
It defines the Igbo people of Nigeria and elevates their culture, giving prestige and authority to the wearer. When titled men in the society wear this attire, it expresses the value of identity and incorporation.
Furthermore, the design and embroidery on this garment highlights the Africanness it embeds. It also serves as a tool used for the performance of sacred rituals of continuity and reaffirmation. It is a symbol of power, social status, allegiance to a deity, self-worth, culture and prestige.
Latest Isi-Agu Styles
Most of the time, this garment is worn as a shirt alone with a pair of black trousers. These days, there are now alterations to the original traditional design. The good news is, it is no longer exclusive to the male gender alone as men, women and children don this outfit in the most stylish of ways. The latest Isi-agu styles portray a vast array of creativity as people sway from its aboriginal look to an uber-contemporary depiction of this traditional attire.
Below are the latest Isi-agu styles for men and women:
1. Short Sleeves
These are the most common Isi-agu styles. They are usually short-sleeved and are mostly paired with black, white or brown trousers.
2. Long Sleeves
These are Isi-agu shirts that have long sleeves. Like the short-sleeved ones, they can be paired with trousers of suitable colours.
3. Mix-and-Match Isi-agu
Here, instead of using the fabric to make a whole ensemble, you take bits of the fabric and use it to garnish another fabric which makes up the main colour of the attire.
4. Isi-agu Dresses
These are dresses for women made with the fabric. They can be of any length and style depending on what suits the wearer.
If you want to wear any of the latest Isi-agu styles in a different way, you can wear in form of a jacket or a kimono. It could be a tunic jacket or a suit jacket. Whichever way, it can be used to layer your outfits, whether traditional or ready-made apparel, in stylish ways.
6. Isi-agu Agbada
Here, you either use the Isi-agu fabric alone or mix it with plain material as a form of decoration to sew Agbada. The result is a blend of both the Yoruba and Igbo culture of Nigeria.
Rather than shirts or dresses, other latest Isi-agu styles include robes in the form of a kaftan or simply a bridal robe.
Donning a pair of shorts made with Isi-agu fabrics makes you look culturally casual.
How to Wear the Latest Isi-agu Styles
This attire can be worn with sandals or any of the shoes that suit native attires. Men can pair with a matching cap, a hat or the red fez cap traditionally worn by Igbo men. You can also add beads to the equation and look really traditional.
Women can as well pair with a cap and beads too like men, however, they have an extra choice of accessorising with a lovely handbag and wearing a pair of flat or heeled types of shoes for women.
The goal is to be stylish and at the same time comfortable in your attire and as such, everything you pair with Isi-agu should elevate your outfit.
Where Can the Latest Isi-agu Styles be Worn to?
You can wear any of the latest Isi-agu styles to traditional ceremonies such as weddings, coronation, festivals and cultural day celebrations like my kid brother did in my introductory story. The attire now even serves as Aso Ebi for traditional occasions.
Whichever of the latest Isi-agu style you choose, remember you aren’t bound by any laws or restrictions. And as such, you can always make a bold fashion statement by wearing them in a way no one has ever done before.