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The principal adornment of these girls from the Bundu tribe in Sierra Leone is the adornment of bodies and faces with markings produced by the smearing on by the fingers of a substance called "wojeh", composed of white clay and animal fat.
Calabar adornments Bird Feather stalks

An adornment is generally an accessory or ornament worn to enhance the beauty or status of the wearer. They are often worn to embellish, enhance, or distinguish the wearer, and to define cultural, social, or religious status within a specific community. When worn to show economic status, the items are often either rare or prohibitively expensive to others. Adornments are usually colourful, and worn to attract attention.

They have a long history, around the world, from feathers or bone, to modern accessories, such as jewellery.[1] Items of adornment are also used by warriors, and by other members of the military to show rank or achievement.[2]

Items of adornment[edit]

These include cosmetics, jewellery, clothing accessories, facial hair, fingernail modification, piercing, lip plates, tattooing, braiding, and headgear.

Cultures, subcultures, and institutions[edit]

Groups who practice adornment include the yakuza, military, religious institutions, tribal groups, and the punk culture.[3] Items of adornment can tell us about a person's rank, social status, gender role, area of origin, etc. An example would be the beaded jewelry worn by the Maasai tribe, which is very specific to them and some related tribes.

In Islamic culture, adornments have included caps such as the kufi and taqiyah for men,[4][5][6] and the hijab for women.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Types and Forms of Ancient Jewelry from Central Asia - Neva - Transoxiana 10". Transoxiana.org. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  2. ^ "Adornments of the Samburu in Northern Kenya: A Comprehensive List 21COE". Areainfo.asafas.kyoto-u.ac.jp. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  3. ^ Demello, Margo (2007). Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0313336959.
  4. ^ Covington-Ward, Yolanda; Jouili, Jeanette S. (9 August 2021). Embodying Black Religions in Africa and Its Diasporas. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-1-4780-1311-2.
  5. ^ "Senior caps". Archived from the original on 2010-03-26.
  6. ^ https://www.cureus.com/articles/186796-dermatological-implications-of-the-taqiyah-and-imamah-recommendations-for-delivering-culturally-conscious-care#!/
  7. ^ Nasir, Kamaludeen Mohamed (December 2020). Representing Islam: Hip-Hop of the September 11 Generation. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-05305-3.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kniel, N; Wright, T:Ribbon: The Art of Adornment, press, ISBN 978-1-4236-0346-7
  • Boucher, François:20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment, H.N. Abrams, 1987.
  • White, Carolyn L.:American Artifacts of Personal Adornment, 1680-1820:A Guide to Identification and Interpretation, Altamira Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-7591-0589-8, ISBN 0-7591-0589-8
  • Bouchot, Henri:The Printed Book, Its History, Illustration, and Adornment, from the Days of Gutenberg to the Present Time, General Books, 2010, ISBN 978-1-153-10013-7, ISBN 1-153-10013-4
  • Gurel, Lois M., Beeson, Marianne S.:Dimensions of dress and adornment: a book of readings, Kendall/Hunt Pub. Co., 1979.
  • LaGamma, Alisa (1991). Metropolitan jewelry. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 0870996169.

External links[edit]