Isiagu History

Posted by Ndidi Enyindah on

The Isiagu, a distinct pull over tunic shirt, widely popular with the over 55 million Igbos of Eastern Nigeria is a cultural phenomenon that expresses the Igbo values of strength, courage and nobility. https://heritage54.com/collections/men-t-shirts/products/ichie-red-handmade-isiagu-igbo-traditional-top-isi-agu-authentic-velvet-african-men

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Its origin and history is a testimony to Igbo dynamic culture. The Igbo man is a practical man and thus very open minded and adaptable. The Isiagu is loosely based on the English tunic shirt worn in 1880's by Europeans along the coasts of Bights of Biafra and Bonny. See below.

Victorian Tunic shirt

Like the Kolanut which is more rampant in the west of Nigeria but has far astute meaning in Igboland, The Igbo embraced this and gave it the current character and meaning.The Igbo wore it with more swagger and prestige, in many vibrant colours and added the distinct Leopard (Agu) head. The Leopard head has since disappeared in  favour of Lion (Odum) head, again for practical reasons. The Igbos have since time immemorial say, Odum na egbu agu (A lion kills a leopard). Thus Odum ranks higher than Agu.

However, Agu (leopard) was more suited to Igbo rain forest while Lion (Odum) which prefer the savannah of Northern Igbo area was far more rarer. Thus the Igbo folklore are filled with more leopard motif than lion's and therefore it is Isiagu and not Isiodum. For more on Agu phenomenon in Igbo culture,"The Bottle Leopard" by Prof Chukwuemeka Ike is an easy read for non-scholars.

Today, Isiagu can be worn by everyone and not just high achieving Igbo men. Men, women and children can buy different colours from our store link below.https://heritage54.com/collections/fabric/products/ichie-red-original-feni-isi-agu-traditional-100-wool-1yard-ladies-men-kidshttps://heritage54.com/collections/men-t-shirts/products/ichie-red-original-feni-isi-agu-traditional-100-wool-1yard-ladies-men-kids

It can also be worn with Okpuagu by men and women.https://heritage54.com/collections/men-t-shirts/products/muna-handmade-igbo-traditional-isiagu-cap-groomsmen-tribal-african-men-royalty

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