Weaving in Southern Nigeria

by Lisa Aronson
Skidmore College

Aso iborun-nla (a large wrapper), Yoruba peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Lisa Aronson.


This is an example of the large wrapper known as the aso iborun-nla meaning “big covering cloth.” It combines the ooni (crocodile) motif with a shaki (shag) feature. The latter is created by weaving supplemental threads through a small grouping of warp threads, leaving the ends hanging in front. The shag is meant to be worn outward for visibility. It is associated with power, prestige, and things that are good. The word shaki means tripe, or inner lining of a cow's stomach, considered among the tastiest and most desired foods among the Yoruba. However, in oshugbo, shaki has the deeper metaphorical meaning of one's inner vulnerability and transparency to the spirits of the earth.