10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

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“Black Panther” recently made it’s big debut in movie theaters and with an opening of $426.6 Million ‘Black Panther’ became The Top-Grossing Film With A Black Cast.

The one who created the incredible costumes for this movie is Academy Award-nominated film designer Ruth E. Carter. To create this look costume designer Carter looked across the continent to pull designs from many tribes and people. She fused them together and created something new.

From the South African Zulu tribe to the Igbo people of Nigeria here are 10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes.

1. Igbo Masks

10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

Michael B. Jordan who plays the character “Eric Killmonger” wears a mask in the movie which was inspired by the Igbo tribe and known as a ‘Mgbedike’. The masks are typically worn when something is being celebrated such as Igbo ceremonies and rituals (birth, death, weddings,etc.). They’re usually large in size and display striking masculine features.

2. Isicholos

10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

The character Queen Ramonda who’s played by actress Angela Bassett wears a unique Zulu headdress in the film. It’s redolent of the Zulu flared hats known as “Isicholos”. The headdresses are worn by married Zulu women of South Africa for traditional and religious ceremonies.

3. Basotho Blanket

10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

“Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya wears a Basotho Blanket around his neck in several scenes along with his other co-stars within the fictional Border Tribe. The Basotho blanket locally known as Seana Marena is a distinctive form of woollen tribal blanket traditionally worn by Sotho people and unique to the Kingdom of Lesotho. The blankets are usually worn for ceremonial use and are cultural symbols of a nation.

4. Dahomey Amazons

10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

The Black female warriors in the movie aka the Dora Milaje warriors were inspired by the real-life “Dahomey Amazons”. They wear bright red military uniforms, a leather harness and beaded tabard, and metal neck rings and armor. a striking look that was created “based on some of the beloved practices of many indiginous African tribes” like the Maasai of Kenya, the Ndebele of South Africa, the Himba people of Namibia.

The bright red color comes from those tribes in Kenya. The Dora Milaje’s leather harnesses were crafted in the way of South African leathersmiths — woven together with a big heavy stitch. Their tabards feature intricate beading, a nod to the beadwork found throughout Africa.

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5. Lip Plates

10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

The characters in the film wear lip disks which are a form of ceremonial body modification. The two main cultures that are best known for this tradition are the Surma and Mursi tribes in Ethiopia. The women wear it as a symbol of female maturity, a sign that she’s reached child-bearing age. It’s also to make sure she is not mistaken for a member of neighboring rival.

6. Ndebele Neck Rings

10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

The Shuri and Dora Milaje female warriors wore costumes with an eminent collar known as a Ndebele Neck Ring. They stem from the South Ndebele tribe of Zimbabwe/South Africa. The Ndebele people wear the neck rings as traditional dress attire. It is a symbol of wealth and status.

7. The Agbada

10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

The spiritual leader shaman Zuri of Wakanda played by actor Forrest Whitaker wore an ornate flowing robe known as an Agbada in the movie. The wide-sleeved robe is quite popular in wesr afdica especially aning the yoruba people of Nigeria, there it is worn by men and women.

8. Himba Tribe

10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

During scenes of “Black Panther” certain costumes were made of distinctive red earthy clay. Ruth E. Carter studied the colors used by the Himba tribe of north-western Namibia. The Himba people are known for applying a red type of paste or clay to their hair and skin. The paste is known as “otjize”. Otjize protects them from the desert climate and cleanses their skin and hair.

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9. Scar Tattoos

10 African Cultures That Inspired The ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

The bumpy markings on Michael B. Jordan’s chest and torso are inspired by the scar tattoos on the bodies of the Mursi and Surma people of Ethiopia. While each scar represents each Killmonger kill in the Black Panther movie, the Mursi and Surma people regard the scars as a sign of beauty and strength.

10. Kente, Ghana

Towards the end of the movie, King T’Challa, is seen wearing a Kente scarf, the fabric which has its origins in Akan, in Ghana’s Ashanti region, where it was first woven with raffia fibers. Ancient Kente mythology suggests that the idea for weaving
Kente was developed based on a spider’s web . Even though Kente has become widely worn, it was initially only reserved for royals and for special occasions.



Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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