Boubou: The Traditional Clothing Of Senegalese Women

As its African neighbours, Senegal has chosen boubou as its traditional clothing. This large, light and pleasant to wear clothing is a prerogative in the Senegalese tradition. Even if it is seen everywhere, don’t forget that a simple Boubou is not a rich one.

Image from Jiji.

Senegalese people generally wear a boubou in a complete manner. That’s what is called “grand and complete boubou”.

It is a three-piece suit where a  tunic, trousers and a boubou which will go on top of the suit. A complete traditional Senegalese suit will need from 9 to 12 meters of fabric.

Simple and stylish at the same time, Senegalese boubou is divided in two types, simple or rich. If the fabric and embroidery are simple, without extra particularities, Boubou will be called “simple”. It is generally worn by lower income people and is made in wax or cotton.

Image from Google

Boubou used to be sewn and embroidered entirely by hand;  A prolonged exercise of sewing which used to take months. A unique piece of clothing people could boast about having it.

Today, since the sewing machine came, Boubou is more quickly made. However, this handcrafted work still has the favour of some people. 

Boubou various fabrics: As strange as it may seem, African boubous are not made in a local fabric. The material comes from Europe and Asia. It is the favourite fabric of western Africa people. The more it shines, the more Senegalese people will like it. The term Bazin comes from the Italian word Bamagia which means cotton batting.

There are three kinds of Bazin:

There is the rich Bazin, first grade quality with a highest quality of 100% cotton guarantee. Once dyed, it gives an exceptional brightness.

Then, we have a second choice of Bazin, made in China, which costs half the price of the first one.

The last one is the less rich Bazin, which appeared in the 1980s. With a clearly inferior quality, the Chinese damask Bazin, sold four times less expensive than the rich one, is now affordable for everybody.

Image from Google.

Wax, both sides dyed fabric:

The wax comes from the English term which means a shiny substance of fat. It has got the particularity to be dyed on both sides, on a wax basis process.  

It became popular at the end of the 19th century. Inspired by the Javanese batik, Dutch and English settlers are going to print cheerful coloured patterns on the cotton fabrics. African people after having joined Dutch army will bring those so coloured fabrics with them.

Since then, Wax Boubou has never left Africa land.

African people are known for their cheerfulness and their good mood. With no doubt, Senegalese people must draw on their happiness from their sunny suits.

Image from


                Image from Madivas Mag.                        
Image from Madivas Mag.

Do you enjoy wearing boubou outfits? 

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