LALLE: From Indigenous Hausa body beautifications to trendy contemporary oriental body designs

By Olabode Moses

Body beautification for women vary from society to society. In Hausaland the traditional body beautification originally called Lalle made from the leaves of a savanna shrub of the same name, provides deep dark from patterns on the body.

The ‘Lalle’ leaves are usually plucked, boiled and prepared with liquid accompaniments. The brown extracts of the concoction is then made into a paste like mixture known as lalle. This paste mixture is applied on the body, usually the arms and feet by a skilful traditional lalle artist using large leaves or polythene bags to cover the area were the Lalle was applied and allowed to remain on the body for some time, in some cases overnight.

Traditionally, the Hausa custom of ‘Sallale’ meaning ‘Immersed’ in Lalle is a traditional marriage rite that is performed for a newly wedded bride before her final departure to her husband’s house.

Once lalle has been applied on the body , it stays for a long time and sometimes for life as it will seldom come off . In the olden days young maidens in hausaland apply Lalle on their bodies to attract would be suitors. This art and indigenous Hausa fashion of body beautification is regarded as true Hausa norm that is respected to date .

Culture is dynamic and the dynamism of hausa culture has embraced and accommodated other synthetic borrowed but culturally acceptable norms especially where the art of Lalle is concerned. A lot of these trendy body beautification came into Hausa land from South East Asian, Arabian and Oriental countries.

These days, Young girls and even married women can be seen spotting some of these trendy body beautification patterns of contemporary style during marriages, Sallah celebrations, Durbars, Turbanings and Naming ceremonies.

Hajia Hussaina a 35 year old mother 4 from Katsina Northern Nigeria told me that the contemporary body beautification is easier to handle and that unlike Lalle it can be removed at any time by the bearer.

The current body beautification styles adopted from South east Asian and Far Eastern patterns have become quite popular with a lot of Hausa women folk and even non Hausa women, because of how body friendly, colorful and trendy they look and especially as they are temporary patterns that can be removed by the bearer without much ado.

My question thus is that could there be a possibility that the South East Asian ‘Friendly’ styles might have been borrowed from the indigenous northern Nigerian, and indeed Hausa beautification styles? After all Africa has borrowed the world a lot, yet Africa is one the greatest importers of products.

Isn’t it time we begin to appreciate, harness and promote our own indigenous Hausa Art forms and fashion style? A Famous saying goes thus, that ‘’While the Africans are striving and tending to achieve more physics from metaphysics, Europe is gravitating from physics toward metaphysics”. This is a paradox if existence and reality of humanity, but then the positive impact of the symbiosis of sharing amongst cultures can also not be over emphasized.

By Olabode Moses
Olabode Moses is a Freelance Culture Writer, Producer and Creative Entrepreneur based in Kaduna,Nigeria.

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