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Aso-Oke also called Aso-Ofi by certain sub-ethnic groups, among the Yoruba people, is the traditional cloth used in the Oke-Ogun and other areas where you find large rocks, hills or highlands.
These places get cold during the dry season early mornings, so this cloth originated in those areas, due to necessity, the video displays the traditional way (which is still used to date) of weaving this cloth in the Yoruba hinterlands, this video comes from Iseyin town, popular for Aso-Oke, some footage from other areas of Republic of Benin and Saki.
The cloth is hand woven as said before, and custom designed to taste. The craft is a true labour of love and this was surely the progenitor of what we call ‘blue jeans’ today. Many parts of Africa, India and the Orient make similar woven cloth, in a similar fashion if not identical.
The Aso-Oke is mandatory during traditional Ifa wedding ceremony, as part of the ‘load’ the bride-groom will bring for the bride, this is spoken about in detail within the recent book by S.Popoola & F.Oyesanya called Ikunle-Abiyamo. Which deals with the issue of marriage and the requirements according to Ifa. Aso-oke as with other cloth shows unity with people and specifically aso-oke acts as a symbol to unify a couple in marriage, which the groom provides to show-prove comfort, warmth and means, a must in traditional African marriage namely among the Yoruba people & Ifa followers.
The sue of cloth, and namely this traditional cloth, can not be substituted, in present day the use of lace is the vogue in Nigeria, yet the women to show opulence, will still wear a ‘gele’ head tie or waist wrapper made of this aso-oke, to accentuate their attire or show their means.
It is also common place to see several women use this aso-oke in unison to commemorator marriage, family, community group, relationship or so many other things.
Alawoye Artisan Collective