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Seven Dominican ladies have recently completed a four-week intensive training course on 'Construction of Dominica's Traditional National Wear for Women'.

The course was conceptualized, by facilitators Aileen Burton, Consultant Traditional Creole Dress, Golden Drum Awardee, and author of "National Dress of Dominica" and Debbie Shillingford, proprietor of Leaf of Life, Specialist, Pattern Drafting and Construction. The main objective was to pass on their skills and knowledge to others in order to keep one of Dominica's legacies alive.

The first two weeks of the course included sessions on the history, origin, and "raison d'être" of Dominica's traditional and national dress, namely, the Wòb Dwiyèt and the Jip, and individual pattern drafting for the construction of the Gwan Wòb and Gwan Jipon. Additionally, Ms. Burton conducted sessions on the various creole headpieces and accessories that complement the Wòb Dwiyèt. She explained that while all creole headpieces are popularly referred to as tèt kasé, it is just one of the many ways of tying the head. Participants learnt how to tie three traditional headpieces notably the tèt kasè, tèt wévolvè and tèt fwansé.

In the latter half of the programme participants were engaged in the actual construction of the Gwan Wòb and Gwan Jipon which necessitated paying attention to detail as they cut, folded, pleated, basted, and stitched. The differences between the Jipon of the Dwiyèt and that of the Jip outfit were pointed out to the participants. They also worked on perfecting the tying of the appropriate headpieces and complementing the traditional triangular foula with simple designs which brought out their individual styles.

The Course culminated in a small but impressive ceremony at the Botanical Gardens where participants received certificates after presenting their accomplishment in a colorful display of the Gwan Wòb over crisp white starched Jipon decorated with an interesting array of laces and tucks, beautifully tied tèt wévolvè and the tèt kasè and carefully designed foula draped over the shoulders. This was truly a remarkable display of beauty, elegance, 'ganm' and confidence!

Facilitators Ms. Burton and Mrs. Shillingford expressed their satisfaction with the work of their trainees, their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn as they paid tribute to Dominican women like Irene Peltier, Lily Lazare, Alcine Lazare, and Ma Didi who were the epitome of elegance and style as they walked to Mass attired in Dominica's traditional wear. Participants on the other hand expressed gratitude to the facilitators for their dedication, patience, and willingness to share the knowledge and skills they have acquired over the years, as they journeyed from "an tan lontan" to the 21st century!

Leaf of Life will be offering a similar workshop in the month of May 2022 in order to respond to additional requests for similar training. They hope that young men will be encouraged to participate in the next workshop.

Interested persons should contact Mrs. Debbie Shillingford at Leaf of Life, 55 Cork Street, Tel no: 1(767)613-3195 for more information.


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