Weaving in Southern Nigeria

by Lisa Aronson
Skidmore College

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

 

Oral tradition tells of a highly exceptional if not innovative weaver named Dada Nwakwata who, according to legend, invented hundreds of new patterns executed with imported cotton threads. Her incentive may have been to please her wealthy southern Ijo patrons who were willing to double the price of their plainer, i.e. more traditional, cloths. Since the late-19th century, when this dramatic change occurred, Akwete Igbo weavers have continued to weave cloths for Eastern Ijo consumption that bear patterns, such as ikaki, initially introduced to the eastern delta from the Ijebu Yoruba area through trade.