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Traditional Fabrics In Nigeria: Names, History And Use

Nigeria is a nation that is very proud of its history and traditions, and fabrics take a special place in the legacy of Nigerian people. Today Nigerians use the same fabrics as they did centuries ago, which is pretty rare in the modern world.

Traditional fabrics in Nigeria differ in their age, origin, and the way they are used, but at the same time they are united by the love of Nigerians for the classic materials. Check out the names of African fabrics and everything you need to know about them!


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1. Ankara fabric

When it comes to traditional fabrics in Nigeria, it’s safe to say that Ankara is the best-known one, as today it’s worn around the world by people who love African print fabric. Although Ankara didn’t originate in Nigeria, it is adored by women and men in every Nigerian region.

Ankara is widely used for making everyday and special occasion clothes. Ankara fabric can be found in the wardrobes of ladies, gentlemen, and even babies. There are also plenty of shoes, handbags, and accessories incorporating the traditional Ankara material.

2. Aso Oke fabric

The Yoruba people in Nigeria are a nation with a unique set of traditions, and it’s not surprising that they have their own historically significant fabric called Aso Oke. This fabric, produced in Oyo and Osun state, has been traditionally made from cotton and had a very complex production process, although today Aso Oke is also made from silk, sewing threads, and even metallic yarn.

The growing popularity of this Yoruba fabric means that we’re not only able to often see this fabric in everyday life and at special events like weddings, but also on the most famous Nigerian celebrities. The demand for Aso Oke also means more employment opportunities for Nigerians.

3. Adire fabric

Adire material can be easily spotted thanks to its color scheme, which includes various shades of indigo blue and the unique tie-dye coloring. The Adire production tradition is several centuries old. This fabric is mostly made by Yoruba women who pass the secret of making Adire from generation to generation.

4. A’nger fabric

A’nger fabric was invented by the Tiv people that populate the Benue state. This fabric is also highly recognizable thanks to the use of just one pattern in all A’nger clothing: the black and white stripes. These stripes symbolize the beliefs of the Tiv people, who are convinced that there are equal parts of good and evil in every person.

A’nger fabric can be often seen at Tiv weddings, where it’s worn not only by the bride and the groom but also by family members of the couple, as well as other guests. Blouse, wrapper, and headgear are the most popular items that are made with this African fabric.

5. Kente fabric

Kente is not a traditional Nigeria fabric – it originated in South Ghana, but was quickly adopted by other African countries. These days Kente material is widely used in Nigerian fashion. This fabric is made of silk and cotton and features intricate patterns with stripes and other geometric figures.

6. Ukara fabric

Ukara material was invented by the Ekpe ethnic groups in Southern Nigeria, who originally made this fabric in shades of white blue, but later introduced green and red into the range of materials. Ukara fabric can be easily recognized thanks to the pattern, which features symbols from the Nsibidi alphabet.

7. Lace fabric

The last one on our list of names of Nigerian fabrics is lace material, but it’s far from being the last one when it comes to preferences of Nigerian ladies. Today lace material is one of the most commonly used ones in women’s clothing, and every Nigerian celebrity, bride, and wedding guest have already worn this beautiful and flattering fabric.


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