Nigerian Ijo Pelete Bite, Wrap
Country Of Origin
Niger River Delta
88 x 173 cms (34¾ x 68 ins)
Cut and drawn thread work
Small tear on one side, nail holes down the edges
Deaccessioned from the International Folk Art Museum Santa Fe, New Mexico
These highly regarded cloths are worn and used for special occasions not daily wear by the Kalabari Ijo of the Niger Delta. They were also used to drape over the face for masquerades and to dress the bed for female funeral rites. Although it is likely that these are still kept as heirloom cloths, they have become impossible to acquire due to the extreme political instability and violence of the region making it untenable for even the most intrepid hunters to go there.
Fine cotton madras cloth from India called injiri was bought from traders to make skirt like wrappers worn by both men and women. The design is created by cutting both warp and weft threads and drawing out the cut section to create a new design in what is known as “cut and drawn work”. The designs do have names but we have not established that of this particular example.
The oldest known cloths were produced in the 19th century and they were still being produced in the 1980s. Indian textile manufacturers had started producing machine made versions of fabric that were woven with ready made cut and drawnwork designs for the Kalabari market. This made the cloth less expensive and more widely available but those who could afford it still preferred the locally embellished, hand-cut cloth.
This older piece which is hand woven was purchased from an American collector and was deaccessioned by the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe .
Price on request