Weaving in Southern Nigeria

by Lisa Aronson
Skidmore College

Migrant weaver’s guild, Ijebu Ode, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.

 

Nigerian looms are varied in type and are used by both men and women. Men among the Yoruba, Nupe, and Hausa, and in much of West Africa, weave long, narrow strips on a horizontal foot-treadle loom with a warp that stretches several yards in front of the weaver. Among the Yoruba, male weavers tend to work within large guilds of weavers who collectively weave at their looms and help each other to prepare the warp. This photograph, taken in the Yoruba village of Ijebu-Ode, illustrates a guild of migrant weavers who originated in the Northern Yoruba village of Ilorin where a rich men's weaving tradition is known. Ilorin weavers are famous for weaving a narrow strip cloth known as aso-oke. In translation, aso-oke means “cloth of the hill,” an expression which may refer to the hilly terrain characteristic of the Ilorin area.