Everyone, male or female, enjoys being seen in an Aso-oke textile. The pleasure that beauty bestows on its wearer is unparalleled. But do we know how the tasty substance is created? Can we have a dialogue and talk about how this Aso-oke that we adore is made? I don’t believe so.
The Yoruba people customarily wears aso-oke. It is an abbreviated form of Aso Ilu Oke, also known as Aso-Ofi, which means Country Clothes.
The Yorubas wear Aso-Oke on significant occasions such as chieftaincy, festivals, engagements, naming ceremonies, and other major events.
Cloth weaving (Aso-Oke) has been practiced by Yorubas for millennia, primarily among the Iseyins (Oyo State), Ede (Osun State), and Okene Kogi States. Meandering fibers are either locally sourced or imported from neighboring states.
The manufacturing method for Aso-oke is shown below.
Gathering of Cotton for production.
Before production can begin, enormous quantities of raw cotton must be purchased. This is the foundational material for the assembly.
This is how the cotton seed is separated from the wool. In doing so, a bow-like instrument known in Yoruba as “Orun” was used (Spindler).
The weaver spreads the wool on the loom and rolls it up (the loom is a handmade wood used in weaving; this loom is usually made by local carpenters).
The Spindler would be turned, and while turning, it would begin to rotate, thinning the yarn. This process is repeated until all of the fur has been spanned.
Cotton works like a magnet, which is why it attracts dirt and dust. To make the wool suitable for usage, the soil must be separated from it. This is known as sorting, and there are machines for it. However, if none are available, it can be done manually, which can be time consuming.
This is the method of creating designs on the Aso-Oke while it is being weaved. Fabric design tools include the following.
- Akata (propeller)
- Iye (long wheel)
- Akawo (short wheel)
- Gowu and kikgun (rollers)
- Aasa (strikers)
- Omu (extender) is used in holding the reels
- Sanrin (metallic peg)
The cotton reels are hung on sets of metallic pegs on the ground during patterning. This is done so that the fiber can be bundled.
The weaving begins in earnest after the operations indicated below are completed. Through the extenders, the rolled cotton will be precisely put into the striker. Iro (filler) will be tied to the weaver’s seat. The staff has two or more holes in which a small peg is tagged. The Okeke (Wheel or Axle) on the upper hand of the Omu (Extenders) is used to pull the Omu up and down.
Under the extenders (Omu), there are two step pedals that the weaver alternately presses down during weaving. When the pedal is squeezed, the cotton opens and the Reeler is pulled to one side, while the Striker smacks the reel back and forth.
This Striker enables the reel to be finely adjusted on the fly. The weaver takes the Oko (Motor) in his hand and throws it into the open cotton to be received by his other hand; the Motor continues to travel faster as if the weaver is not touching it at all.
The cloth is weaved and eventually spreads forward as the weaver continues in this manner. While weaving proceeds, the producer uses the drawer to pull the cloth towards himself, and the carrier obeys the force and advances towards him.
The Aso-oke gradually takes shape and can then be fine-tuned and packed. It’s worth noting that the Aso-oke come in several varieties, which explains why each product has a different name.