890 x 1359 Weaving in Southern Nigeria, Page 17 - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art

Weaving in Southern Nigeria

by Lisa Aronson
Skidmore College

Dyeing injiri cloth with local roots and minerals, Ijo peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.


The Ibani Ijo are known to transform imported injiri cloth for specific use in iria (women's coming of age) rituals. At a crucial point in that ritual, the woman is presented with a special cloth known as awumiebite, which then accompanies her throughout her life and even after her death. The cloth is basically injiri, which has been dyed in a vat of reddish-brown dye made from local roots and minerals. The word awumiebite means red cloth, its color conceivably alluding to menstrual blood. Awumiebite is presented to her at her coming of age ceremony and from that point on becomes a kind of social marker of important stages of her life including marriage, the bearing of children, and, finally, death. As she lies in state, awumiebite is the last cloth draped over her body.