Weaving in Southern Nigeria

by Lisa Aronson
Skidmore College

Amanyanabo (King) Opuada Secondus Pepple, Ijo peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.

 

Once reaching the Eastern Ijo people through trade, Ijebu and other traded cloths took on a life of their own appropriate to the needs of their Eastern Ijo recipients. For two centuries or more, amanyanabo (kings) in certain Eastern Ijo communities have worn cloths bearing Ijebu-like patterns as their official attire. Yet, while the patterns bear a striking resemblance to their Ijebu counterparts, the names the Ijo attribute to them are quite different. Eastern Ijo refer to the weft-float designs, however they are configured, as ikaki, the Ijo word for tortoise. To the Eastern Ijo, the tortoise is a highly revered owu (water spirit) whose wise and cunning, and tricky behavior Ijo kings and chiefs have been known to emulate.