Weaving in Southern Nigeria

by Lisa Aronson
Skidmore College

Ijebu woman weaving at Itagbe, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.

 

The finished cloths can be anywhere between twelve and thirty inches wide, either left single or sewn together in threes or fours to create the finished product. Unlike the men’s narrow strip variety, the woman's loom is completely stationary and, for the sake of convenience, located close to her compound so that she is able easily to tend to her other domestic responsibilities. This Ijebu woman is weaving an Itagbe, the cloth worn on the shoulder or wrapped around the head. The red and yellow weft-float pattern on this cloth bears the image of an opolo (frog). Typical of many Ijebu patterns, it is seen from a bird’s eye view suggesting orientation for divine rather than human viewing. This viewpoint also recalls the horizontality of Ijebu masks representing water spirits.