#ThisIsUs Part One

The traditional knowledge of what colors, shapes, or designs of different South Sudanese traditional attires or beads symbolize is rapidly disappearing. Partly, this is due to the passing of elders, urbanization, migration, insecurity, and lack of respect for traditional knowledge as a knowledge system in the current education system, amongst other factors.

One of South Sudan’s core unifying dynamism is the culture and conventional attire. The attires represent the culture or identity of ethnic groups, gender, age, or marital status. Spoken languages and fashion frequently and prominently reflect cultural and social representations. These traditional attires include a variety of garments, jewelry, and beaded accessories that have historical roots and are essential to South Sudanese identities.

#ThisIsUs is a visual and written digital curation that highlights some South Sudanese cultural wears. After eleven years of independence from Sudan and ten years of internal instability, the curation aims to initiate knowledge sharing and provide insights and understanding of what different attires symbolize for diverse communities. Additionally, the curation seeks to create conversations on how cultural dressings influence perception in the past and present. Beaded accessories, for instance, are purposefully color-coded to indicate one’s age group or status, cultural beliefs, and expressions. Presently, beaded accessories are worn as a fashion statement, especially by the youth. Despite not always conveying the intended historical values, they serve as a representation of diversity and beauty. This series will provide an understanding of roots that shape our identities and respect traditional positive values while allowing the worldwide transition to a new society by connecting the past, present, and future.

For this round of curation, the series featured 16 photographs of various traditional attires to remind us that there is beauty and strength in diversity.


Ayor Dhuor, Achol Gai, Gloria Lifu, Sandra Adhieu, Lilly Joan, Asano, Jacky Aparo, Agau Bul, Katkuta Margaret, Aluel Gai, Hellen Hivita, Manuela Modong, Susan Samson, Mama Ropani, Mama Achol, Mama Owe


Mahandis Magic


Aluel Manyang

Support Stylist and Director

Hellen Hivita

16 South Sudanese Cultural Attires

Mundari Attire

Mundari girls and Women wear Tondura and Lawu. However, this attire is worn by other ethnic groups like the Dinka, famously known as attire for the Mundari women and girls.

Bari Attire

One of the most well-known and prominent Bari attires is the Lowa, or "Perida" in Rutan Bari (Bari Language). Women of all ages wear it, especially during important occasions. The Lowa is made of cotton and sometimes hints of silk in various colors.

The Dinka Bor, Dinka Yirol, and Mundari beaded corset

This is the beaded corset mostly worn by Dinka Bor, Dinka Yirol, and the Mundari people of South Sudan. The corsets have different names based on the colors of the beads and how the colors are arranged/alternated.

Shilluk Women/Girls’ Lawa

Lawa is one of the most famous South Sudanese cultural outfits and is mainly associated with the Shilluk (Collo) people. For the Collo, each village wears a different color of lawa, and beads are usually based on animals or birds such as (buffalo, rhino, tiger, swallow, etc.).

Aweil Attire

Aweil cultural attires are majorly inclusive and hold little difference between women’s and men’s wear. The cultural attires are worn to attend the Ayakdit (a cultural dance).

Otuho Attire (Married Women)

This is an attire worn by married women and mostly during happy or moments of celebratory dances.

Otuho Attire (Girls/Young Women)

This is a Lotuko attire popularly worn by unmarried women and young girls. The top beads are known as Egama, while the waist beads are known as Emunya.

Toposa Attire

The Toposa attires are some of the most colorful and vibrant attires in South Sudan. While the main attire is the “Nyakilem,” the photo below is of secondary or optional clothing to the Toposa culture known as “Ngiboro.”

Twic Mayardit Attire

This attire consists of an open sides skirt known as “Biong” made of animal skin. The skirt is worn with “Gang” beads, a 6 line of tablet-like beads of the white & red color mixture around the waist & with either a black or white bra on top.

Azande Attire

This is a “Roko Bagadi” Azande attire, beautifully adorned with shell beads around the neck known as Amangburu or Azege. The knitted basket carried in the hands is the Kiaga.

Yirol Attires (Atuot/Reel)

This attire is known as Mejim (Biong), the leading and most attractive Bulpuny/Bulcengreel attire used on executive occasions by young women.

Hand Embroidered ‘Milaya’ Lawa

For this curation, we couldn’t resist talking about one of South Sudanese women’s most delicate embroidery artwork; the famous hand-made embroidered lawa.

Toob or Thoub (Bonus Attire)

Thoub is a traditional Sudanese women's attire essential to any Sudanese woman’s wardrobe. Before separation, the two previously united Sudans shared many cultures and traditions and adopted each other's foods, accessories, and attires.

Luo (Bahr el Ghazal) Attire

Back in the day, girls wore a collection of beads on the head and neck without any vest or bra. Under, they wore a tiny cloth covering just the private parts called “Ajugo” or “Abonga.” Girls stayed naked, wearing beads with their breasts and abonga covering their private parts.

Nuer Attire

Beads and lawa (the long cloth tied around) are essential in the Naath community and are worn for important occasions such as weddings, initiations, and other significant community ceremonies.

Acholi Attire

This is a modernized Acholi attire named “Maarina,” mostly worn during dance performances by both girls and women. Back in the day, before clothing was introduced, the Acholi wore leaves and animal skin.