Wonders about aso-oke of Yoruba land

Aso oke fabric, (Yoruba: așǫ oke, pronounced ah-SHAW-okay) is a hand-woven cloth created by the Yoruba people of west Africa. Aso oke means “top cloth” in the English language, denoting cloth of high status. Usually woven by men and women, the fabric is used to make men’s gowns, called agbada and hats, called fila, as well as women’s wrappers, called iro and head tie, called gele.

A Nigerian man in Aso Oke

Aso oke is from the Yoruba culture in Kwara, Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Lagos, and Osun States in western Nigeria and Ajase in southeastern Benin Republic.

The way of making the cloth has remained the same for centuries, however new techniques and production methods have been looked into to eliminate the weight and thickness of the aso oke cloth, and to make it more accessible for casual wear.

The aso oke has gain recognition too among the whites,the americans and british people have added it to their fashion world by making it into jackets,trousers,tops and many more.


Types of aso oke

Other ways that designers have made this old traditional cloth become more modern is to “structurally manipulate and combine animal and floral motifs into definite shapes of grids and geometry, suitable for computer design applications.” The basis of more traditional motifs would have originated from fables and folklore.

Aso-Oke (which means ‘cloth from the hinterland’) is the genre of woven cloth that is peculiar to the Yoruba. It is made from cotton and handwoven.

  • Sanyan type: woven from anaphe wild silk and cotton yarns
  • Alaari type: woven with either synthetically or locally grown cotton and shinning threads, sometimes with perforated patterns
  • Etu type: bears dark indigo colours with tiny white stripes noted for their simplicity.

Aso oke fabric is often worn with aran, a brown velvet with concentric designs.


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