Why Don’t They Build A Bigger Loom?

Iris Faire-2074

Hi! I never update! Also, this is a copy-paste from another post I put on my Facebook. I’m lazy!

There are pictures of my newest looks for Kehinde coming soon! I promise this time!

And now the copy-pasta! All rambling notes are about the links right under them.


More research!

One mystery solved! The thin strips that I didn’t get in Yoruba medieval/traditional clothing? “Why not build a bigger loom?”

Woven by men! I know that seems kind of sexist, but bear with me.

In Yoruba culture, men and women are both weavers and their styles are complimentary. Adire is typically a male-produced cloth, made on the narrow double-heddle loom. The strips are typically 4 inches wide and used for the tie and dye process, probably because it is, like, a billion times faster and easier to tie and dye 4-inch strips than yardage when symmetry is such a big deal. So the “knight’s tunic” the German merchant acquired? Woven by a man for a man, as was traditional for political occasions, such as  a knighting or coronation. Women did weave men’s clothing, but usually for rites of passage or religious ocassions, like marriages and births.

A garment woven by a women is made on a broad-loom, typically with fewer panels and shorter in length. The broad-loom is stationary and not easy to break down, unlike the men’s thin double-heddle. The popular belief among scholars is that when Westerners saw that women were confined to the house for weaving and men could weave with double-heddles (pretty much anywhere), the assumption was that men were the professionals and women wove only for domestic items, when the case seems to be that women’s weaving was complimentary to men’s, not subordinate.

As a cheat sheet: Many thin panels sewn together to make a garment, men’s weaving. Only a couple wide panels (perhaps two panels sewn down the middle or just one big sheet), woman’s weaving.

For more interesting reading on the subject AND some interesting pictures for textiles, feel free to peruse the links below. Be warned, one of them is in French.

African textile history with a focus on adire, especially adire onika (tie and dye) and alabere (stitch resist):




http://www.adireafricantextiles.com/asookeintro.htmhttp://www.adireafricantextiles.com/africantextintro5.htm (Is that trim? I don’t know yet!)

An exceptionally informative, exceptionally expensive book. It has crazy illustrations and studies many techniques, including pre-colonial garments. It’s also where the majority of scholars get information on weaving taboos (yes, they exist, weirded me out, too) as well as widths and lengths, fiber content, specific patterns. Ugh, just read it.:


Hi! This is in French! However, it has fabulous imagery from the Tellum Caves excavation, including an early fila, which looks a bit like a Phrygian cap, an adire onika coif, some vertical strip cloth with horization weaving…now the coifs are something I want to point attention to for a second, because this is an 11th century find. Yes, the Tellum Caves are technically in Mali, which is a Sudanic kingdom to the east of Yorubaland, but the consensus among many scholars is that these techniques were common throughout West Africa at the time. Even if 11th century Oyo didn’t have adire onika (which it likely did and I haven’t found pictures yet), they definitely had it by the 1500s. Anyway, one coif has a definite turned hem with what  am hoping with a blind hem (I can’t see the inside) or a slipstitch. There are “stitch marks” visible on the adire coif, but it could either be sloppy stitching or a sloppy stitch resist (true adire almost always has “stitch marks”, which are really just left from the thread). IF it is left over from the stitch resist, the thread is pretty thin. They use raffia traditionally to do stitch resists because it is so dye-resistant (now they use plastic and I will be using upholstery thread because raffia is rather expensive to just turn around and throw in the trash after dyeing). So, as you can see, it’s kind of thin. Anyway, just a bit of speculation on my part. I didn’t mean to turn this into a novel. Check out the next page, too. Lined coifs and tunic patterns. Yay.:


Finally, some extremely interesting academic articles on traditional Nigerian clothing, focusing on Yoruba. Venice Lamb gets some mentions and both are written by Nigerians and have AWESOME bibliographies/sources pages. Definitely worth a read, if only for the small tidbits of information, like learning that crimson cloth was introduced to Yoruba court in the late 1400s and that the etymology for the garments suggest they are of Arab origin.:

Click to access sogunguyilepaper.pdf

Click to access asakitipki_aretha.pdf

This really turned into a book, didn’t it? Okay, well, if you have questions, let me know. =D I’m still learning, and maybe next week I will find out this is all wrong. Oh well, that’s just part of it, I guess!

Happy adventuring!


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