Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The History of Aso Oke

Aso Oke in various colours 
Aso-Oke is a short form of Aso Ilu Oke also known as Aso-Ofi meaning clothes from the up-country. It is the traditional wear of the Yoruba's
(the tribe of the southwest people in Nigeria, Africa). The Yoruba's are the second largest tribe in Nigeria after the Northerners. Aso-Oke is a cloth that is worn on special occasions by the Yoruba's usually for chieftancy, festivals, engagement, naming ceremony and other important events.

The beauty of Aso-Oke comes out more when it is taken as Aso-Ebi (group of people e.g. friends, families e.t.c). Cloth weaving (Aso-Oke) started centuries ago amongst the Yoruba's but predominantly amongst the Iseyin's (Oyo-State), Ede (Osun State) and Okene Kogi State. The fibres used for weaving are either locally sourced or brought from neighboring states (northern parts of the country).

PREPARATION AND MAKING OF ASO-OKE
Aso Oke in different colours

PLANTING OF COTTONS :
The cotton is used in making the threads used in weaving Aso-Oke and it is mostly planted during the rainy season between the month of June and July. However the cottons would be ready for harvesting between November and February of the following year. Most cases after harvesting the cottons are kept in the bar for spinning.

SPINNING :
This is the process of separating the cotton seed from the wool. And in doing this a bow-like instrument called "Orun" in Yoruba language (Spindler). The weaver spread the wool and rolls it on the loom (the loom is a handmade wood used in weaving; this loom is usually made by local carpenters). The Spindler would be turned, and while it is being turned, it will start rotating thereby thinning the cotton. This is done on a continuos basis till all the wool has been spinned.

SORTING :
Aso Oke 
Cotton behaves like magnates thus easily attracting dirt; therefore the dirt's has to be separated from the wool in order to make the wool fit for use. This process is known as sorting and there are machines for these purposes but in the absence of non, it can be sorted out manually. This is very tedious and time consuming.

PARTERNING:
This is the process where designs and patterns are made on the Aso-Oke while the cloth is being woven. The material used in cloth pattering includes the following:
- Akata (propeller)
- Iye (long wheel)
- Akawo (shortwheel)
- Gowu and kikgun (rollers)
- Aasa (strikers)
- Omu (extender) this is used in holding the reels
- Sanrin (metallic peg)
During patterning, the cotton reels are hanged upon the hangers on the sets of the metallic pegs on the ground. The reason for this is to make the cotton into bundles.

WEAVING:
After the above has been put in place, the actual weaving starts. The rolled cotton will be neatly inserted into the striker through the extenders. The weaver will tie Iro (filler) on his seat. There are to or more holes on the staff in which a small peg is tagged. On the upper hand of the Omu (Extenders), there is Okeke (Wheel or Axle) for pulling the Omu up and down. There are two step pedals under the extenders (Omu) which the weaver presses down interchangeably during weaving. The pedal when pressed enables the cotton to open and the Reeler put through to one side while the Striker knocks the reel to and fro to another side. This Striker allows the reel to be finely set interchangeably. The weaver handles the Oko (Motor) throws it inside the open cotton to be received by his other hand, movement of the Motor continues and faster as if the weaver is not touching it at all. The reel inside the motor will start giving a peculiar sound.
Sakala - si - sakala - sa
Sakala - si - sakala - sa
As the weaver continues this way, the cloth is weaved and gradually extends forward. The weaver uses the drawer to pull the cloth towards himself and the carrier obeys the force and moves towards him while weaving continues. Aso-Oke is indeed a beautiful sight to behold and that's why it is such a wonder how, as cottons in few minutes become Aso-Oke., however the clothes goes by different names depending on the type, texture and quality.
*culled from Aso-Oke Heritage Enterprises

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