Aso-oke 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 chieftaincy, festivals, engagement, naming ceremony and other important events. 

It is said that “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)”, however Bellafricana is prepared to show the beauty of Aso-Oke in interior decorations, fashion, shoes, bags and many more.

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) and some areas in Ghana. The fibres used for weaving are either locally sourced or brought from neighbouring states (northern parts of the country).


The primary raw materials for Aso –Oke making are majorly cotton and dye. The dyes, silk and fibres used in making different types of Aso-Oke are either locally sourced or brought from Hausa, at times imported from Tunisia, Italy and France.

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.

Some weaving instruments and equipment are shown below (Culled from www.iseyin.com);

aso-oke-weaving-production-bellafricana aso-oke-weaving-production-bellafricana

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.


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.

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 patterning 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.

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.

Aso-Oke is originally made of three types;

  • Etu is a deep blue, almost black, indigo dyed cloth often with very thin light blue stripes. Etu means ‘guinea fowl’, and the cloth is said to resemble the bird’s plumage.


  • Sanyan is woven from the beige silk obtained locally from the cocoons of the Anaphe moth, forming a pale brown/beige cloth.


  • Alaari is woven from magenta waste silk.


ASO-OKE can be used for different purposes as shown below;

Aso-oke for Throw cushions

asoke throw pillow bellafricana

Aso-oke for Gele and Fila


Aso-oke footwear by ethnik by tunde Owolabi made in Nigeria
Ethnik by Tunde Owolabi

Aso-oke footwear by ethnik by tunde Owolabi made in Nigeria
Aso-oke shoes, Ethnik by Tunde Owolabi

Aso-oke footwear by ethnik by tunde Owolabi made in Nigeria
Aso-oke shoes, Ethnik by Tunde Owolabi

Aso-oke bags by ethnik by tunde Owolabi made in Nigeria
Aso-oke bags, Ethnik by Tunde Owolabi

quality made in Nigeria product by Bellafricana
Chairs made with Aso-oke by Taeillo
For more real time updates about bellafricana, follow us on Instagram:@bell_africana, Facebook: bellafricana, Twitter: bellafricana

8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Shannon Crawford Tuten May 20, 2016 Subscriber

    wow do they have ANY idea of the history of that area? it was a major player in the
    slave trade.. and remember no one could have benefited had the locals not made money in the venture either. the southwestern
    coast of Nigeria and neighboring parts of the present-day Republic of
    Benin (not to be confused with the kingdom of Benin) became known as the
    “slave coast.” When the African coast began to supply slaves
    to the Americas in the last third of the sixteenth century, the
    Portuguese continued to look to the Bight of Benin as one of its sources
    of supply. By then they were concentrating activities on the Angolan
    coast, which supplied roughly 40 percent of all slaves shipped to the
    Americas throughout the duration of the transatlantic trade, but they
    always maintained a presence on the Nigerian coast.
    The Portuguese monopoly on West African trade was broken at the end
    of the sixteenth century, when Portugal’s influence was challenged by
    the rising naval power of the Netherlands. The Dutch took over
    Portuguese trading stations on the coast that were the source of slaves
    for the Americas. French and English competition later undermined the
    Dutch position. Although slave ports from Lagos to Calabar would see the
    flags of many other European maritime countries (including Denmark,
    Sweden, and Brandenburg) and the North American colonies, Britain became
    the dominant slaving power in the eighteenth century. Its ships handled
    two-fifths of the transatlantic traffic during the century. The
    Portuguese and French were responsible for another two-fifths.
    Nigeria kept its important position in the slave trade throughout the
    great expansion of the transatlantic trade after the middle of the
    seventeenth century. Slightly more slaves came from the Nigerian coast
    than from Angola in the eighteenth century, while in the nineteenth
    century perhaps 30 percent of all slaves sent across the Atlantic came
    from Nigeria. Over the period of the whole trade, more than 3.5 million
    slaves were shipped from Nigeria to the Americas. Most of these slaves
    were Igbo and Yoruba, with significant concentrations of Hausa, Ibibio,
    and other ethnic groups. In the eighteenth century, two polities–Oyo
    and the Aro confederacy–were responsible for most of the slaves
    exported from Nigeria. The Aro confederacy continued to export slaves
    through the 1830s, but most slaves in the nineteenth century were a
    product of the Yoruba civil wars that followed the collapse of Oyo in
    the 1820s.

    • Bellafricana May 22, 2016 Subscriber

      Oh wow, how do you know so much history?Thanks alot for the detailed contribution. Appreciate you for having a read and commenting.

  2. Pingback: The History Of Aso-Oke Textile | DebonairNG

  3. Pingback: The History Of Adire Textile - Bellafricana Digest | Artisans | Creatives | Talents

  4. Pingback: Art, Exhibition and Fashion: Highlights of GTBank Fashion Weekend - Bellafricana Digest | Artisans | Creatives | Talents

  5. Pingback: The Bold of Art: Chief Nike Okundaye Davies - Bellafricana Digest | Artisans | Creatives | Talents

  6. Pingback: Àbẹ̀ḱẹ́ – Kemisola Writes

  7. Pingback: Naomi Campbell is an entire mood as she rocks a Nigerian designer’s outfit at Paris Fashion Week - Nsuri

Leave your comment


Find things you’ll definitely love. Support our creative African-owned businesses. Only on Bellafricana.