Aso Oke: A Nigerian Tradition

From iPhones to designer clothing, it’s neat to see how items that were once viewed as luxurious have made their way to the more middle-class population. That’s exactly what’s happened with aso oke, a hand-loomed cotton-woven fabric made from textiles indigenous to the Yoruba nation in Nigeria. The material is typically worn at special social gatherings such as weddings, funerals, and holidays. In an art exhibit titled “Aso Oke – The Woven Beauty,” artist Tunde Owolabi tells the 100-plus-year story of the timeless fabric through photos, paintings, videos, and other media. While fashion statements have evolved over time, aso oke has remained a prevalent fabric in Nigerian clothing. Even attempts to modernize the production process have been rejected–rather, the traditional weaving process has been preserved as an integral industry in a number of communities. Owolabi notes that the weaving process “is an art that leaves no gender out of the fun and experience.”

His art exhibit is currently on display at Red Door Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos.

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