Weaving in Southern Nigeria

by Lisa Aronson
Skidmore College

An Akwete Igbo weaver at her loom. Igbo peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.

 

The Eastern Ijo have come to value imported cloths, such as those from the Ijebu Yoruba area, to such a degree that local weaving production came to be greatly affected. Just to the north of the Eastern Ijo groups are the Ndoki Igbo, in the village of Akwete, with whom the Eastern Ijo were trading heavily for slaves and palm oil throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Through such commercial contact, women weavers of Akwete gained exposure to imported cloth patterns familiar to their Eastern Ijo patrons. By the end of the 19th century, amidst a period of competitive trading amongst coastal and inland groups, weaving in the Ndoki village of Akwete was revolutionized. The black threads in the warp serve to control the pattern shed into which she hand inserts the threads to create the weft-float designs.