The importance Ondos attached to the use of Aso Oke (Aso Ilu Oke ) inspired this write up, the people of Ondo Kingdom who are exquisitely fashionable lead the pack among the Yoruba tribe in its love for aso oke. Aso oke a traditionally woven textile is a symbolic identity of the Ondos, you styleworthy and respected when you attend core ceremonies like traditional festivals (Odun Oba, Ogun and Ekimogun Day), chieftaincy installation ceremonies, burials, weddings and other important events appearing in this cloth with your coral beads on the neck and wrists. Aso oke is perceived to make an occasion exclusive or classic and also the symbol of wealth and prestige as exemplified in this adage:
Kijipa ooo se aso ole (Kijipa is meant for a lazy man)
Ofi aso agba (Ofi specifically for the wealthy elders)
Agba ye ri owo ro ofi (Elders who cannot buy ofi)
Do ra kijipa (should buy Kijipa)
Sanyan o se baba aso yi (Sanyan is the father of all cloth)
Etu ni oba ewu (Etu is the King of tops)
Alaari e tele (Alaari is next in line)
For the men aso oke is used to make hats (fila), flowing gowns (agbada), three-quarter shorts, trousers and a long piece thrown across the neck (isolorun). The females’ attire comprises of the head gear (gele), wrapper (iro) and another piece about the size of the head gear placed on the shoulder.
There are different types of aso oke which comes in different forms, shades and uses. The three major ones synonymous with the people of Ondo Kingdom (ETU, ALAARI and SANYAN) will be discussed.
The ETU comes in a shade of darkish-blue derived its name from guinea fowl (eye etu), patterns on it might vary but the shade is mostly similar. It is worn for any occasion and stepping out in it is gorgeous especially matching it with a white inner wear or top for the females. The ALAARI on its own is usually of crimson-red colour this is the most popular kind of aso oke used by the Ondos. Alaari is used for any occasion, it makes an occasion colourful maybe that is the major reason for its frequent use. The Ondos use SANYAN mainly for burial ceremonies, the sons and daughters of the deceased wear this attire when heading for the interment at the grave side, believed it is a kind of identifying the direct offspring of the deceased (omo loku).
Another interesting aspect of the Aso oke is the making, members of the younger generation donning it do not know the process it entails to make this attire. The making process is amazing, passing through different stages before completion. The planting of cottons, the spinning process, the sorting, patterning and the weaving are all stages the Aso oke pass through before it is ready for use. The use of cotton by weavers is now heading towards extinction as imported materials like rayon, silk and metallic lurex are used for the weaving.
Despite the frequent use of aso oke in Ondo Kingdom for various ceremonies, the local production is fast fading as most of the sellers travel as far as Iseyin and Ilorin to buy. We believe this revelation can make our youths invest in aso oke production business with the current state of unemployment ravaging the country.