A Look at Kehinde

So, I am pretty much the worst blogger in the history of ever.

I did win NaNoWriMo this year (so there’s that).

I thought that I would show you guys a quick view of Kehinde’s progress. So, here!

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What I like about this look:

The braids are super fun. They were a bit hard to do on myself–I did them at the last minute THAT MORNING–but I got a ton of compliments on them. The beads came from a four dollar craft necklace craft set from WalMart, all carved wood, glass, and malleable metal that Kehinde would have had access to. I didn’t get a picture of the hairpiece, but it’s a great, swooping bun at it was HEAVY. Much heavier than my Indian braids. Eek! The bracelet is also metal.

I am wearing two wax prints and one quilting cotton print. I love the design on the quilting (the dress), the texture and the designs on the drape and the handmade look of the second print, which you unfortunately cannot see, because it is the apron piece. When I can, I will show you the layer of this outfit. Holding this up is a macrame’d belt with wooden beads.

What I hate:

The braids were very fuzzy and VERY plain for Yoruba nobility. I need swooping, wing-like monstrosities positively bursting from my hairline and I won’t be able to achieve this without either a wig or twenty handservants (which is what Kehinde might have had…well…not twenty). The beads are nice but EXTREMELY under-done. She needs beads on beads on beads in coral and amber for her fancy dress. At my current state of dress, I am slumming it. Likewise, I need necklaces, beaded belts, bracelets, and anklets, not to mention fabulous earrings and a lovely nose ring.

I am not wearing any form of scarification in this picture. It’s extremely difficult to do makeup of that degree for an extended period of time for SCA events, so I am trying to remember to paint my face ahead of time (generally thin black lines). Scarification is crucial as a form of identity, a passing of age event, and a beauty technique for noble women of this time in medieval Western Africa (Benin and Oyo in particular). I have gotten a couple of comments on my views of this and not all of them have been encouraging. That’s okay; medieval Europeans would think scarification looked crazy, too, so it’s a good thing I’m only painting it on.

The quilter’s cotton batik. I am currently in the process of ordering new cloth (it’s all draped garments…seeing a trend in my personas?) but, for now, I’ve got a ton of this broadcloth. Ugh. It’s really cute…for a beginner…but I want to go beyond that. The broadcloth has GOT to go.

The shoes. You can’t see them, but they are super-cute sandals made of leather and decorated with metal beads. I can’t do much about that; you kind of have to have shoes in this day and age. I just wish I could go without or make the perfect set of desert sandals.

Accessories. I needs them. Many women hollowed gourds and used them for purses and pouches (not unlike my famous coconut purse). I need those. I need a grass basket. I need an animal skin cloak…probably goat or something similar. I need fancy jewelry in metal, bone, or corral. I need a better beaded belt. Macrame is not supported in my research for Kehinde, though she could have purchased it from traders from northern Africa. It’s unlikely, though, and I’d rather just get a beaded belt. I also need at least one metal of beaded necklace with a gigantic cross on it. I’m not kidding.

I have come a LONG way with this persona, and now all of you guys get to see it! Yay! But, I still have a LONG way to go, and, hopefully, it’ll only get fancier and…more African.

 

Now, the big question everyone is probably asking: Where are the breasts?

Well, medieval Africa is filled with breasts, yes, not unlike medieval India. However, the SCA is a family show. There is evidence leading me to believe that Christian or baptized West Africans (Kehinde is one) covered themselves out of modesty. The picture below depicts Afonso I of the Kongo and the women in the picture all have their breasts covered, whether by sashes or smocks.

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It is these depictions of the most basic draped clothing that I am using as the basis for Kehinde’s garb, as she is a Christian African woman with a Portguese mother (look, Portuguese people in the picture), so the chance that she’s flashing her breasts all over, even if it’s the local fashion, is low. Yes, I am aware that the Kongo and the Kingdom of Oyo are two different places and you can’t point to one side of a continent and then another and assume they dressed the same (Poland versus France, say). However, since they are relying on draped clothing at this point in history and then their next stage of dress is obviously influenced by the same country’s traditions and religious beliefs, I think it’s safe at this moment to assume that Kehinde’s dress would not be too unlike the Christian African women of the Kongo with remarkable difference in jewelry, hair, textile design and content, cosmetics, etc. After all, her draped wrap isn’t too unlike a sari, which isn’t too unlike a kilt. You can only do so many things with a long rectangle, after all, and 90% of it seems to involve pleats.

Besides, Corpora states that I am a visitor to the European (influenced) courts of the Laurel Kingdoms. Even if Kehinde weren’t baptized and a practicing Christian, she still couldn’t flash in court. Just sayin’. If you came here for boobs, sorry ’bout that.

 

~ K