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Aso Oke

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Aso Oke is a traditional African fabric, sometimes made from woven strips that are carefully sewn together, somewhat like a quilt, before being cut to make the garment.  The traditional Yoruba women's aso oke outfit consists of four parts: the buba (a blouse like shirt), a wrap skirt, the head tie, and a shawl or shoulder sash.  Aso oke come in many styles though, and some these days choose not to cut it up for garments at all, and instead, wear it as a drape, somewhat like the sari.

Aso Oke is often printed with symbols called Adinkra.  These are symbols that have meanings which are understood by Africans of many regions, regardless of which language they speak.

The meaning depends on how the symbols are arranged.  There is very little authentic Aso Oke sold in the western world.  It is usually woven by men using a double heddle loom.

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© 2006 Nicole Lasher