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Clarke, Duncan Peter (1998) Aso Oke: The Evolving Tradition of Hand-Woven Textile Design Among the Yoruba of South-Western Nigeria. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Aso oke is the name given to cloth woven for ceremonial use among the Yoruba-speaking people of south-western Nigeria. The thesis explores the production, distribution and consumption of this cloth through an account based on field research supplemented by archival and secondary sources. The first chapter suggests that the notion of tradition and its relation to both continuity and processes of change is a productive way of appreciating key aspects of the role of aso oke in Yoruba life. The following chapter looks at the history of weaving technology and of hand-woven textile design in the region. Following on from this the weavers' compound is documented as the currently dominant form of production organisation for aso oke, with the focus moving out from a single compound to a wider picture of weaving in Oyo and beyond. The growing movement of young women into aso oke weaving is discussed in the fourth chapter, after which an account is given of the fundamental importance of women cloth traders in promoting design change. In particular their recent role in stimulating an influx of Ewe weavers from Ghana to compete in the aso oke market, and the far-reaching impact of these developments on the design repertoire of Yoruba weavers is documented. The penultimate chapter covers the consumption of aso oke, moving from an account of historical controversies over issues such as cultural nationalism and the role of aso egbe or group dress, to an exploration of the use of the cloth in ceremonies in the 1990s. The conclusion highlights the continuing importance of individual and often idiosyncratic innovation throughout the production, distribution, and consumption of aso oke.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:26

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