Aso oke African fabric, (pronounced ah-SHOW-kay) is an intricately hand made cloth woven by the Yoruba people of south west Nigeria. It is a hand made woven cotton or silk fabric. Aso oke translates as top cloth in English. It takes some time to make aso-oke fabric as it is made very delicately. Aso-oke is woven with elaborate unique patterns made from dyed strands of fabric that are woven into strips of cloth. It can also be made with a silk fabric which enhances the colors and the material.
How to wear Aso oke African fabric
This African fabric traditionally is used to make both men’s and women’s Yoruba outfits, including men’s traditional African hats.
Aso-oke is a very elegant traditional African cloth and can be worn in different designs. People from all parts of the world can wear Aso oke material.
The traditional Aso oke garment for women consists of four parts:
- Buba (BOO-ba)- a plain straight blouse without darts and fasteners
- Iro (ee-ROW)- a wrapper
- Gele (GHE-leh)– Nigerian Head tie
- Iborun (ee-BOAR-roon) or Ipele (ee-PEH-LEH)- shawl or shoulder sash
The full traditional Aso-oke garment for men also consists of four parts:
- Dashiki - African men’s top
- Sokoto (show-koh-toh)- Is the Yoruba word for pants/trousers
- Agbada (aa-BA-DA) – Wide sleeved robe worn over dashiki, usually worn to the ankles
- Fila (FEE-la) –Men’s cap
Dashikis are very common in Africa, particularly in the west of the continent. It covers the top half of the body and has formal and informal versions which vary from simple draped clothing to fully tailored suits. These can be made from other types of material such as brocade. Traditional female attire is called a Kaftan.
Aso-oke is becoming an increasing popular fabric amongst non-Yoruba people, including West Indians and African-Americans. They are usually reserved for those special occasions including special birthdays, naming ceremonies, funerals and chieftain title ceremonies. It the preferred garment for traditional African weddings.
How is Aso oke made?
Many Nigerians make a living from weaving and selling aso-oke African cloth. It is made by first washing the thread and then using starch. It is then left out to dry in the hot African sun. It then needs to be rolled before you start to weave it. It can take up to 3 hours to finish weaving one piece and can take up to 2 weeks to finish a complete customized aso-oke cloth. This process can be much longer during the rainy season.
Please contact us if you would like a customized aso-oke design or for general information.
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