Category: Objects That Matter


The huipil is a blouse-like garment worn by women in Mesoamerica since at least 2,000 years ago. The name huipil derives from the Nahuatl word “huipilli,” used by the Aztecs to denote this garment.

The Kiondo

The Kiondo is traditionally a round, striped, woven sisal and leather strapped basket, made and used by Agikuyu women from central Kenya, to carry out daily domestic tasks.


Adire is a type of textile originating among the Yoruba indigenous people from the Southwestern states in Nigeria. In Yoruba, the word Adire translates as (adi) “to tie” and (re) “to dye.”

The Terno

The terno is the national dress of the Philippines. It evolved from the Maria Clara or Traje de Mestiza dress, which originated from the Baro’t Saya. The terno is identified by its butterfly sleeves— flat, oversized high-peaked sleeves that…


The tignon is an 18th century headdress with origins in Louisiana, the Spanish Colonial Gulf, the Caribbean, and West Africa. It is a kerchief that both free and enslaved women of African descent were mandated to wear in the colonies of…


For the past one hundred years, the qipao has been one of the most recognized garments associated with Chinese culture. In Mandarin Chinese, “qipao” translates to the “gowns of the banner people.”

The Bindi

The bindi is a colored dot worn on the center of the forehead. Made from vermillion powder and sindoor, people of South Asian descent wear the bindi to signify their marriage status or as a cultural symbol.

The Hanbok

The hanbok (or Chosŏn-ot in North Korean) is a type of traditional Korean dress worn by all ages and genders. It came to prominence in the Joseon period (1392-1897). Initially, the hanbok was worn by Korean royalty and aristocracy as a daily costume and show of authority. Symbolism of status and rank were built into the hanbok colors, components, and characteristics.

The Dastaar

For millennia, the turban has been a cultural status symbol with various religious and ethnic affiliations. Ancient Egyptians wore turbans as a festive headpieces or symbols of royalty, and the Bible references the piousness associated with a linen turban. The turban even entered European fashion in the 1800s where women wore Regency turbans as a show of style.

French Algerian Colonial Poster

Propaganda posters distributed by the 5th Bureau of Psychological Action during the French colonial era in Algeria sought the veil, a presumed symbol of “otherness”, to be the target in a campaign of cultural erasure in Algeria.