The word “dashiki" comes from the Yoruba word danshiki, used to refer to the loose-fitting pullover which originated in West Africa as a functional work tunic for men, comfortable enough to wear in the heat. The Yoruba loaned the word danshiki from the Hausa term dan ciki, which means "underneath." The dan chiki garment was commonly worn by males under large robes. Similar garments were found in sacred Dogon burial caves in Southern Mali, which date back to the 12th and 13th centuries.
The dashiki has become a ready-to-wear conveyor of blackness, linking the continent and the diaspora by a shared assertion of the value of an original Black creation. Its inherent symbolism comes from a struggle against white supremacy and an embracing of African culture as its antitheses—yes, this is a lot of weight to put on a clothing item, but symbols are truly that powerful. So much so, that when a Black person dons a dashiki they are sporting one of the most universally understood interpretations of the phrase “I'm Black and I'm proud," without having to utter a word.