What Type of Clothes Did Pygmy People Wear?

The traditional garb of the “pygmy” tribes is a plant-based clothing crafted from the leaves and bark of trees found in the African rain forest. In the native language this clothing is called “mulumba” and it is habitually painted in colourful abstract patterns.

The “pygmy” denomination is now considered very disrespectful, and the population should be identified by their real ethnic names – the Baka, Twa, Aka and Mbuti tribes. These tribal people inhabit the hot rain forests of Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon and Central African Republic. As a result of this temperate climate, the tribal populations prefer wearing a meager outfit that generally resembles a loincloth. This choice allows for maximum breathability and coolness. The tribespeople also practice a traditional African religion, worshiping a forest spirit named Jengi. They believe strongly in the power of nature, specifically in the power of bark. This association and respect for natural resources can explain why the populations chose to craft their clothing from plant-based materials.

In recent times, clothing choices for the Baka and Twa choices have been greatly impacted by globalization. The spread of Western market power has displaced some of the traditional “mulumba” and tribal people can be found wearing more common Western-style shirts, pants and shorts.