No weddinging Yoruba-land is complete without it.
According to Wikipedia, Aso-oke is defined as “a hand-loomed cloth, woven by the Yoruba people of western Nigeria.” It is peculiar to Yoruba people, particularly those from Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun and Oyo states. Traditionally, aso-oke can be translated to mean “top cloth” in English language.
Aso-oke is hand woven. Most of the persons behind this ancient craft of weaving aso-oke are males; though, in recent times, more women have begun to identify with the craft.
If you are a Yoruba individual who is about to get married, or you are getting married to a Yoruba person, you will surely need aso-oke. It gives the occasion that traditional feel. This post will enlighten you on the various types and categories of aso-okes that exist in Nigeria. You probably assume that you know all about aso-okes, but there’s more. Also, we try to share insight on the prices of aso-oke in Nigeria, which we suppose will help you accurately plan your budget for your wedding, or for that of your friend or sibling.
Firstly, let us look at the history of aso-oke and how it is made.
History of Aso-oke:
Aso-oke is peculiar to yorubaland. The craft of making aso-oke is believed to have originated from Ilesa, Osun state. These days, anyone can wear an aso-oke; but in ancient times, aso-oke was mostly seen amongst members of the traditional royal family. As time evolved, its use became more widespread, and even peasants and farmers began to have access to it: but even at that, the best aso-oke fabrics were seen more among royalty. These days, anyone that can afford them can buy them and have them for themselves.
How Aso-oke is made:
The primary material used in making aso-oke is cotton. Aso-oke specialists usually start out planting cotton during the rainy season. After they are harvested, the cotton bolls are taken for a process known as ‘spinning’. They make use of a Spindler to separate the cotton seed from the wool. The Spindler is turned repeatedly, and the rotating motion it creates helps to thin out the wool.
Once the wool has been spun, the next stage in the process involves sorting. The wool is usually very delicate and susceptible to contamination, that is why this process is very crucial. It helps to remove all forms of dirt and contaminants, so that it can be wholesome enough for productive usage. There are specialized machines that are used to carry out this process, but it can also be done manually.
After sorting, the next stage in the preparation of aso-oke is patterning. This is where the various colourful designs on the aso-okes are made and incorporated into the fabric. Special materials are used to achieve this patterning; and while it is going on, the cotton is being made into bundles.
The next stage of the process involves weaving. This is a very delicate process. What we see as aso-oke is a product of the entire process, down to the weaving.
Categories of Aso-oke:
- Agbada – this is the overall top for males. It usually extends far down below the knee-level. It is worn on occasions and ceremonial events. It has always been a male’s attire, but in recent times, women have begun adopting it as a style of dressing.
- Buba – this is a generic name for most fashionable Yoruba blouses. All top-garments made from this material and similar ones like Ankara and gini are referred to as
- Iro – this is also the generic name for Yoruba skirts or wrappers. The use of this name is restricted to ladies. It is out of place in Nigerian culture for males to wear skirts or wrappers in the open, or as part of a traditional or ceremonial attire.
- Gele – this is the name for female yoruba head-gears.
- Fila – this is the name given to male head-gears like caps and traditional hats
- Iborun or Ipele – this is the name for shawls
Types of Aso-Oke:
- Wire to wire
- Net lace
- Ordinary lace
- Net design
- Sanyan (brown and white)
- Big and small loom
- Etu (dark blue)
- Super net
- Plain and pattern
Prices of Aso-oke:
Part of the reasons why aso-oke is one of the most expensive materials for weddings is perhaps the fact that it is hand-woven by ancient craft, and also because it is like a cultural heritage. Many people who have done weddings in the past using aso-oke do not often give them out to friends and family members who are desirous of it; meanwhile, they may find it easier to give out their wedding suits and wedding gowns.
Truth be told, aso-okes’ are expensive. One who has an aso-oke combination would cherish it as a source of pride. This is why they are rarely used for ordinary reasons. In Yoruba land, people often have different aso-okes for different occasions.
Now for the prices:
The prices of aso-oke are in a state of constant flux. However, there is an acceptable range that you can expect to fall in, irrespective of where you are situated or what store you choose to purchase from. These days, we even have ready-to-wear aso-okes, and one should expect them to be more expensive than others.
On average, high quality ready-to-wear aso-oke geles cost anywhere from around #14,000 to #16,000 naira. Normal gele materials cost considerably lesser than this, and would be in the region of #4,000 to #6,000 naira.
Iro/Buba/Agbada aso-oke material:
The price of this one is not fixed. Even though there’s a range, the final amount you can get to purchase a quality aso-oke material will greatly depend on your bargaining power and your choice of selection. Under normal circumstances, a good aso-oke material would cost in the region of #7,000 to #12,000 naira; while the top-quality ones could cost anywhere from #15,000 naira to #25,000 naira. For the highest quality aso-okes, one would have to spend between #50,000 to #100,000 naira.