Weaving in Southern Nigeria

by Lisa Aronson
Skidmore College

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

 

Adesina Adeyemi, from Ijebu-Ife, is dressed in his typical attire as head of the reformed oshugbo fraternity. It consists of an iborun-nla wrapper covering his body and two itagbe, one on his left shoulder (bearing the initials of the fraternity) and the other on his head. Elsewhere in Yorubaland, members of oshugbo (ogboni) tend not to use Ijebu woven aso olona as standard attire. However, cloths bearing identical patterns to aso olona are found in cloth collections among Ijo groups living at the eastern end of the Niger Delta proper, more than 100 miles from Ijebuland. Trade seems to have been the impetus for this spread. The Ijebu Yoruba have always been known to be active traders of cloth. European merchant accounts from the early 19th century mention “jaboo” cloths traded into the delta region. Aso olona may well have been among the cloths transported in this fashion.