Aso Oke Cloth

Aso oke cloth is an intricately woven cloth used for ceremonial garments. Made by the Yoruba men of Nigeria, Aso oke cloth is decorated with elaborate patterns made from dyed strands of fabric that are woven into strips of cloth. These strips of cloth are sewn together to form larger pieces. Some Aso oke cloth, called "prestige cloth," has a lace-like appearance with intricate open patterns. Patterns and colors used for Aso oke cloth have special meanings. A purplish-red colored dye called allure is prized among the Yoruba. Some designs are specifically for women's garments and some are for men's. The cloth is used to make numerous garment styles, including skirts, shirts, and trousers. Many of the outfits made from Aso oke cloth reflect the strong influence of the Muslim religion in the area since the early nineteenth century, with headwraps and modest gowns being prevalent. The amount of fabric and the patterns used indicate the wealth of the wearer.


Blauer, Ettagale. African Elegance. New York: Rizzoli, 1999.

Kennett, Frances, and Caroline MacDonald-Haig. Ethnic Dress. New York: Facts on File, 1994.

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