Aso-Oke comes from Aso Ilu Oke or Aso-Ofi, translated as clothes from the top or mountain or top cloth.
The history of Aso-Oke and its reimagined elegance in modern times
Aso-Oke is a beautiful attire that has its origin in the past but is still relevant in today's fashion.
The Aso-Oke is part of the attire of the Yoruba people of Southern Nigeria and, it is worn on special occasions like burials and weddings.
Aso-Oke was used for Agbadas which are flowing gown-like outfits and Fila, a sort of cap for men and matching blouse, shirts and scarves for women.
Aso-Oke originated in the Southwest Nigeria in the 15th Century by the Yorubas, coinciding with the introduction of Islam with its requirement of head coverings into the region.
It began in towns like Iseyin and Oyo and soon spread to neighboring tribes like Igalas, Idomas, Ebiras, Tivs with their own Aso-Oke colors.
This piece of clothing is handwoven through a painstaking process. It is almost an art form. The Aso-Oke is made with a spindle known in Yoruba as “Orun” and a weaver.
The weavers working on the local machine to weave the Aso-oke make it look so effortless, but it is a long process.
Almost all Yoruba women in ancient times were experts at weaving. The process begins with separating the cotton from the wool with a Spindler.
After that, the dirt is separated from the wool by a process known as sorting.
The next process is the dyeing of the thread. The thread is dyed into the desired color.
Then the thread is inserted into the weaver in the way the person weaving wants the Aso-Oke to come out. It takes about two-four hours to insert the thread into the machine.
Then, the weaving begins. Weaving involves interlocking a set of threads at the right angle to form a pattern.
Modern use of Aso-Oke
Aso Oke is the staple of the Nigerian traditional wedding, and it has been reimagined into a modern-looking, glistening skirt and blouse, with different trimmings and patterns.
It is worn by the bride, groom, friends, and family as part of the Aso-Ebi (clothes for the family).
One Nigerian designer who has reimagined the way we look at Aso-Oke is worn Deola Sagoe with her beautiful collections of Aso-Oke using what is now called reflexive Aso-Oke.
Aso-Oke is not only limited to wedding attire. There are now Aso-Oke jackets, bags, shoes, and purses.
Additionally, Aso-Oke can be worn casually as trousers or a mini skirt and, paired with a round neck t-shirt.
It is versatile and relevant in these modern times, moving from the past and maintaining its beauty and elegance.
Finally, Aso-Oke proclaims the beauty in Africa and African culture before colonialization.
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