Ronko Shirt

A ronko, or medicine, shirt, from the north of Sierra Leone. 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 three protective amulets, likely to contain scripts from the Quran, wrapped in cotton. It also has a large pocket sewn on the inside containing a protective amulet, wrapped in organic fibre. 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: Kisi
  • Dimensions: 600mm [L] x 600mm [W]
  • Production Date: Pre 1908
  • Associated Places: Unknown
  • Associated People: G. B. Haddon Smith; W. D. Bowden
  • Museum: British Museum
  • Accession Number: BM:Af.1908.1013.1.a

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