Mayotte is a French island country in the Indian Ocean off East Africa. It is located between Madagascar and Mozambique. The island is identified with 95% Muslim, and which in turn propagates Islamic-inspired traditions in the country.
For traditional wedding in Mayotte, there is an utmost reservation for the culture of the country, thereby, there are peculiarities for their dressing styles. One of the regular traditional outfits worn in Mayotte is Salouva. Salouva is a large cotton tube tied around the chest and falling to the feet. It is basically composed of two parts; a large piece of fabric sewn on one side in which the woman slips and usually fastens over the chest. The kishali, which is the shawl is worn on the head or on the shoulders. The kishali can be described as a Mahometric veil, without religious connotation, but made from the same material as salouva.
Salouva is indeed a staple garment upholding the cultural value of Mayotte. However, under the salouva, the bride do wear a cotton body close to the body and a petticoat or shimizi, which is soften a sleeveless dress in light cotton. Embroidered salouvas are generally reserved for grand events, like traditional weddings in Mayotte. In a bid to stay glammed for the nuptial occasion, Mayotte brides always make beautiful patterns up on their faces, which is traced with msizano.
Furthermore, Comoran chiromani outfits are also being worn for Mayotte wedding. Chiromani is a traditional fabric of the Mahorais and the Comoriennes. This is a two-tone cotton fabric made up of 6 tiles repeating the same pattern. Traditionally, its usual colors are bright red, black, and burgundy. This is still a popular fabric worn in the country with different trendy styles.
This attire can be worn either as a veil or wrap the entire body of the bride. Originally, this fabric was bicoloured and the bride just wear the red and white colors. But now, it is found in shade of all colors for the delight of women.Chiromani is a fabric composed of 6 tiles with various symbols like clove, jasmine, ylang for flowers or those of the card game (clover, tile, spade and heart).
Today, many stylists and designers have made huge recreation of chiromani fabric and transform it into various kinds of clothing, like dresses, skirts, and even shirts for men.
Being a great symbol of beauty, tradition, the chiromani is an essential fabric and very popular on the island.
Also, the Mayotte couple in some cases opts for Mozambican traditional fabric, capulana. The capulana is a vibrant cotton cloth with dynamic prints and a multitasking core. This is apparently owed to its beauty of gracing all social functions. For instance, it can be often used as a shawl against cold and a protective shield from the sun.
The origin of this fascinating piece of fabric can be traced back to the trade between Mozambique’s coastal people and Portuguese traders between the 9th and 10th century. Northern Mozambique is considered the cynosure of the Capulana. According to the book ‘Capulanas & Lenços’, published by Missanga, the women from the north are credited for their creativity when fashioning the capulana. ‘Women here wear several capulanas, one over another, and sheets or other capulanas on the head, artistically made as a headdress, in perfectly combined colors and patterns’.
Nevertheless, there is a clearer distinction between the day-to-day capulana and the ones reserved for special occasions. In Mayotte, the choice of capulana blend can easily infers either a woman’s marital status (married, widowed, or single).
Also, the donning of this adorable fabric is representative of a woman’s wealth. Capulanas can also serve as gifts from the men in relationship with Mayotte women.
Greatly influenced by Swahili culture albeit, this textile is a synthesis of local culture and foreign elements. The print of the capulana draws inspiration from the Indonesian sarong and the Indian sari. There was then an addition of elements, such as the strip around the edge and larger motifs in the middle of the cloth. The design evolution of the capulana patterns can be attributed to co-creation. According to ‘Design activism beautiful strangeness for a Sustainable World’ by A. Fuad-Luke, the participation of the population with naming and design development do improve the chances of a more effective design outcome.
While it has some close similarities with the Kanga, it also has some elements that distinguish it from the rest. For example, the capulana doesn’t feature a written phrase or proverb like the Kanga. Furthermore, its creative liberties does not include portraits of leaders in the community.
When it comes to fashion, capulana is a textile that has been used by international and local designers. Although they are generally expensive fabrics, but their quality is topnotch. The only thing standard is the dimensions (2 meters by one) of the capulana. Meanwhile, the modern versions have been somehow domesticated by western fashion trends.
Today, there are numerous kinds of capulanas of various designs and colors. The capulana is often worn with a headscarf and tailored blouse in Mayotte.