Prestige Cloth (Aṣọ-òkè)

19th century

African Art

On view, 1st floor, African Art

To make this sumptuous garment, a master Yorùbá weaver working on a horizontally oriented, double-heddle loom wove ten individual lengths of cloth, which were then stitched together with alternating patterns. While men were responsible for the actual weaving of aṣọ-òkè, women played a crucial role in the early stages of production, assisting in the planting and harvesting of cotton, the spinning of the cotton into thread, and afterward, the dyeing and preparation of the threads for weaving. The distinctive motif in silk of a rectangle with an arrowlike projection at one end, which runs across alternating strips and is framed by green and magenta triangles, is based on the form of a writing board that was used in Qur’anic schools to teach Arabic. The pattern speaks to the history of trade and exchange between Yorùbá and Islamic cultures.


Hand-spun cotton and silk (alaari)


172 × 109 cm (67 11/16 × 42 15/16 in.)

Credit Line

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund

Accession Number



19th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Purchased by Duncan Clarke in 2018 in Ondo, Nigeria, from a noble family; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

textile materials, textiles



Technical metadata and APIs


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