|James Agasi (right) displays an Ùkárá cloth at his workshop|
James first buys the white cotton cloth in the market, and then draws the Nsìbìdì (coded) designs on it. He uses raffia thread to stitch the designs, and then dyes the cloth in indigo.
|The cotton cloth is stitched and ready to be dyed|
Ùkárá cloth is sold in markets in Ohafia, Umuahia, Abiriba, Aro, Aba and in Calabar, but all this cloth is created in Nkalagu junction village. Formerly, were three producers of Ùkárá in Nkalagu, but the others passed away, and their children abandoned this practice because it is not lucrative enough.
James makes Ùkárá cloth in Nkalagu because the ingredients are there. They include a tree called Ókwè, the ashes of which are used in the dying process as a mordant to fix the dye. James may be the last expert of Ùkárá cloth in southeast Nigeria. We are encouraging and promoting him to become a full time cloth maker, and to train others.
|A finished loincloth, ready for market|
|While the codes are widely used, each cloth is unique|
This long cloth decorates an Ékpè assembly hall
Right detail of large cloth above
Middle section of large cloth above
Left section of large cloth above