What Materials Do Igbo People Wear?

In this article we’re taking a brief look at some materials often used for Igbo cultural attire. 

Akwete: Traditional Igbo weaving uses sisal, hemp, raffia, cotton, and other fibres. Akwete in Abia is famous for its use of these fibres to create a fabric called ‘Akwete’ (named after the town it’s produced in).

Isi Agu: Isi Agu, which literally translates to “lion head,” is a traditional Igbo garment. The pattern resembles the head of a lion, hence the name. It is worn at special occasions.

Plain George: This plaid fabric also known as “madras,” came from India during pre-colonial British trade with southern Nigeria. It is now worn as traditional clothing in southeastern Nigeria, where it is called “George” (Jorji) by the Igbo and “injiri” by the Kalabari.

Akwa Ocha: Akwa-Ocha is white woven cloth traditional to the Anioma of Delta State. It’s a highly regarded material that is worn during special occasions.

Ukara cloth: Members of the Ekpe secret society in southeastern Nigeria and western Cameroon wear Ukara cloth. The cloth is made of plain cotton but is transformed into a ritual object by indigo dyeing Nsibidi symbols into it. Each ukara is highly personalised and designed to be worn by a specific Ekpe member.

Arochukwu George: The Aros are an Igbo subgroup from the Arochukwu Kingdom. They are known for wearing their own stlye of “plain george” cloth, which features woven plaid patterns and the Aro people’s emblem.

Intorica George: This fabric is another Indian import into Nigeria, it’s often worn by mature women on special occasions.

Bridal George: Bridal Georges are typically made in India. Elaborate and intricate patterns, beads, and embroidery are common features of this fabric. It’s a popular choice for brides and grooms alike.

Lace: Lace is lace. 😅

If you would like to find out where to purchase Igbo cultural materials online, check out our post where we have listed some sources for buying these items.

2 responses to “What Materials Do Igbo People Wear?”

  1. This is worthwhile project.
    However please note that the “Isiagu fabric” is NOT “traditional” in any respect.
    The “Akwete,” “Akwaocha,” and “Ukara” cloths are genuinely “traditional,” and “indigenous,” in the sense that they existed and were worn prior to the colonial period. The “georges,” as you correctly mentioned, are actually imported fabrics from India, introduced to West Africa during the reign of the English King George during the British colonialization of West Africa. They were originally actually handwoven fabrics, from natural fabrics of cotton and silk, “traditional” to India and were adopted by the Igbo and adapted for use culturally.
    However, the “isi agu” is a 20th century total invention, that has no historical basis in Igbo culture for the following reasons:
    1. Agu – Means Leopard, which is the cat native to that part of the world – forest regions and it climbs trees. Indigenous emblems include the leopard
    2. The lion NEVER roamed that part of Africa. It lives in savanna [grassy] regions and cannot climb trees.
    3. There is no precolonial word in the Igbo vocabulary that means lion. This suggests that it was NEVER part of traditional Igbo culture.
    4. Tigers which are also used to decorate this cloth do NOT live in Africa – another fact that suggests that this fabric is actually a fabrication that has no basis in history or geography, let alone tradition.
    5. The nature of the fabric which is polyester – a 20th century creation from petroleum products – certainly not precolonial or traditional in any way!
    My curiosity is how come this travesty is being paraded as a “traditional” belonging to an ancient ethnicity like the Igbos. The Yorubas have their “asoke;” the Tivs have their “An ger;” the Aniomas have their “Akwaocha;” the Igbos were supposed to have their “Akwete;” why did they need to invent tradition?????

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