Ronko Shirt

A ronko, or medicine, shirt, from the north of Sierra Leone, collected in the 1890s. Ronko shirts, or gowns, are made of strips of country cloth, typically dyed a rusty reddish brown using local pigments. In the past such pigments were seen as having spiritual protective powers. This example has a number of small leather rectangles, or amulets, sewn onto it, along with leather tassels, a piece of horn, and a coiled basketry rosette. Such shirts were worn by hunters and others engaged in dangerous pursuits - this example is described as a war-shirt. Ronko shirts are also associated with the kamajors, or local militias, that fought during the recent civil war.

Further Information

  • Type: Costume, dress, Weapons, armour
  • Object: Ronko Shirt
  • Materials: Textile, Bone, ivory, tooth, Leather, animal skin, Vegetable, organic fibre
  • Culture Group: Mende, Limba, Kuranko
  • Dimensions: 950mm [L] x 880mm [W]
  • Production Date: Pre 1904
  • Associated Places: Unknown
  • Associated People: Thomas Joshua Alldridge (Collector); G. Garrett
  • Museum: British Museum
  • Accession Number: BM:Af.1904.415.21

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