Weaving in Southern Nigeria

by Lisa Aronson
Skidmore College

Adesima Adeyemi, from Ijebu-Ife. Yoruba peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.

 

The spiritual powers by which oshugbo leadership is exercised is also suggested by the weft-float patterns on Ijebu woven textiles. Several represent water spirits prominent in Ijebu cosmology. Included among them are the ooni (crocodile ), opolo (frog ), agbarieja (fish head), and ejo (snake). The crocodile is the animal pattern repeated throughout this particular oshugbo wrapper, identified as such by its elongated body and out-stretched limbs. The crocodile motif appears most frequently on Ijebu textiles in because of its all-encompassing role as guardian of the spirits. The fact that it is often represented with heads at either end, as seen here, is also suggests its all-seeing powers.