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Yoruba Clothing and the Significance of Aso-Oke

As a child, I had a hate-hate relationship with Yoruba traditional clothing. The iro (skirt) held my legs together so I couldn’t run and play like I wanted. The gele (headscarf) was just an unnecessary extra weight on my head that I always ended up tossing somewhere in the chaos of the party. As an adult, I have a love-hate relationship with gele. I love it in all its majestic beauty BUT it is always trying to squeeze my brain cells 😂. Either way, now remove my gele at a party? BLASPHEMYYY! Let me just go home abeg. It wasn’t until I got older that I truly appreciated Yoruba traditional attire. Aso-oke means a lot to Yoruba people, not just because it is woven by us for us but also how it looks and what it represents. Aso oke means big clothes, in the sense of being the most prestigious fabric you can wear in Yoruba land. Although, people wear a mix of any colour they want today, traditionally there are three main fabrics, Alari, Sanyan and Etu, the most prestigious of the three.

Weaving aso oke has always been an important part of Yoruba culture. So when I got to Ibadan, I really wanted to see the process and understand it. I just searched on google maps and ended up at Jokelinks Weaving School, where I met @adejokelasisiweaver, one of the most pleasant people I’ve met in a while. She comes from a Yoruba family of aso-oke weavers. I ended up spending over an hour with her talking about her business, life and just generally having fun. In the video, Adejoke explains the weaving process.

Last photo: my siblings and I at my brother’s wedding. Wearing alari and sanyan.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a writer and illustrator from Lagos, Nigeria.


In 2015, I started a company called IheartLagos with the aim of showcasing Lagos culture in a unique and fun way.


That journey took me down an exciting path, discovering and learning so much about Nigeria.

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