Liminality / Mourning

By Monica Demott
(formerly University of Iowa)

Nigeria; Ijo peoples

Pelete bite (cloth)

Cotton

W. 81.28 cm (32")

The University of Iowa Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection, X1990.623

In the same way that the corpse of the deceased is covered with high prestige textiles among Kuba peoples of Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ijo of southern Nigeria display impressive quantities of elaborately made cotton textiles called pelete bite on the bed on which the corpse is laid out.  These textiles are fine examples of the ways African artists transform materials from other cultures to suit their needs: the Ijo women who make pelete bite sit with an imported European textile on their knees and carefully cut warp and weft threads and remove them without disturbing the surrounding threads, thus transforming a machine made cloth into a work of art.

Textiles arranged on a bed for a burial. Ijo peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.