Aso oke fabric, (Yoruba: Așǫ oke, pronounced ah-SHAW-okay) is a hand-loomed cloth woven by the Yoruba people of western Nigeria. Aso oke means "top cloth" in the English language, denoting cloth of high status. Usually woven by men, the fabric is used to make men's gowns, called Agbada, women's wrappers, called iro, and men's hats, called fila.
The way of making the cloth has remained the same for centuries, however new techniques and production methods have been looked into to eliminate the weight and thickness of the Aso oke cloth, and to make it more accessible for casual wear.
Types of aso oke
Other ways that designers have made this old traditional cloth become more modern is to "structurally manipulate and combine animal and floral motifs into definite shapes of grids and geometry, suitable for computer design applications." The basis of more traditional motifs would have originated from fables and folklore.
- Sanyan type: woven from anaphe wild silk and cotton yarns
- Alaari type: woven with either synthetically or locally grown cotton and shinning threads, sometimes with perforated patterns
- Etu type: bears dark indigo colours with tiny white stripes noted for their simplicity.
Aso oke fabric is often worn with aran, a brown velvet with concentric designs.
Yoruba women's garment
When people speak of an aso oke, they are usually referring to the traditional Yoruba women's garment, which consists of four parts:
- Buba - Yoruba blouse
- Iro - a wrap skirt
- Gele - head tie
- Iborun or Ipele - shawl or shoulder sash
Nigerians around the world wear aso oke fabric for special occasions, including holidays, weddings, funerals and chieftain title ceremonies. All followers of the Yoruba religion also wear aso oke fabrics and hats.
- Adire - Yoruba tie-dye
- African textiles
- Aso Oke hat
- Women's wrapper
- Kente cloth—Woven by Ashanti people
- Barkcloth—Woven by Buganda people
- "Introduction to Aso oke", The African Waistcoat Company.
- Bankole Ojo, Emmanuel (Spring 2007). "Printing Contemporary Handwoven Fabrics (Aso-Oke) in Southwestern Nigeria". Design Issues. 23: 31–39.
- Agbadudu, A.B. (2006). "Aso-Oke: a Nigerian classic style and fashion fabric". Journal of Fashion and Marketing and Management. 10: 97–113 – via Emerald.