Weaving in Southern Nigeria
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.