|James Agasi (right) displays an Ùkárá cloth at his workshop|
The white cotton cloth is purchased in the market, and then Nsìbìdì (coded) designs are drawn on it. Raffia fiber threads are then stitched along the designs, and then the cloth is dyed in indigo.
|The cotton cloth is stitched and ready to be dyed|
James maintains his ùkárá cloth workshop 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 promoting him here so that perhaps he could become a full time cloth maker, and to train others.
Eli Bentor, “A Historical Understanding of Ukara Cloth.” Ukara: Ritual Cloth of the Ekpe Secret Society. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2015. pp. 5-9.
|Cloth with Cuban Abakuá references|
|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