Wednesday, 13 July 2011

An exceptional C19th Yoruba aso oke cloth


This classic style of nineteenth century Yoruba aso oke cloth involved the alternation of a simple warp striped strip with a second design in which supplementary weft float motifs are laid out on a fine blue and white checked background. In an early example such as this the magenta silk thread alaari from the trans-Saharan caravan trade is combined with local hand spun indigo dyed cotton. In some cases, as here, there is one different warp striped design to add variety. Although the supplementary weft float motifs are largely based on the Koranic board shape (a wooden rectangle with an arrow head at the top, used by boys at Islamic schools as a writing board) in early examples as here the weaver plays around with variations on the shape. On C20th examples the design format becomes more rigid. This cloth can be dated by comparison with examples in the British Museum accessioned in 1900. It has a very slight pink tinge from a recent washing but otherwise is in very good condition for a piece of this age. More details here.

This is one of a group of rare Nigerian textiles we have recently added to our website. Click here and visit the Nigerian gallery pages for more.

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