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Darkest Africa: Zanzibari Arab Slavers

As they pushed inland, establishing trading centres and slave depots, the Zanzibaris fought most of the tribes of East Africa and the Congo.  They also fought the Belgian "Force Publique" in the Congo, the Germans in East Africa, the Royal Navy in anti-slaving skirmishes, and each other in numerous small wars.  They can also be used as Persian Gulf Arabs of the mid to late nineteenth century.

Skin - varied, from olive to dark brown, with the number of generations a family had been settled in East Africa.  Beards occasionally dyed red with henna.

Gown - a long shirt with full-length sleeves.  Originally this was a dull yellow, but by the 1870s was usually white, its brightness increasing with status.  At the waist there was usually a sash, often white although any colour could be used.  A shorter shirt, in a striped or patterned fabric, was sometimes worn over the gown.

Waistcoats and Jackets - dark blue or red zouave style with contrasting edging and decoration.

Overmantles - in very dark blue or red, worn by leaders.

Hats - white fezzes or turbans.  Wealthier Arabs often used multicoloured, striped silks for their turbans.

Flags - a blood-red flag was the sign of a caravan from Zanzibar, although the contingents of individual leaders carried their own flags.  These were probably simple vertical or horizontal strips of blue, red or white fabric added as borders to a basic red flag. Sometimes patterned fabrics may have been used for these stripes.